Incarceration of inguinal hernia in infants prior to elective repair

J Pediatr Surg. 1993 Apr;28(4):582-3. doi: 10.1016/0022-3468(93)90665-8.


The low morbidity and good results of elective herniorrhaphy in children are adversely affected by incarceration. Since incarceration is a potentially avoidable complication, we reviewed 908 consecutive cases to determine its incidence and consequences in children awaiting elective operation for an inguinal hernia. Eighty-five of the 908 children presented with an incarcerated hernia. Thirty of these 85 patients (35%) were known to have an inguinal hernia prior to incarceration, and 25 of the 30 were awaiting elective hernia repair. The median time from surgical office visit to planned operation was 22 days, but the mean interval from office visit to incarceration was 8 days. Eighty-five percent of the children with incarcerated hernias were infants under 1 year of age. Seventy-one of the 85 patients with an incarcerated hernia (84%) had successful manual reduction. They were all admitted and had a mean hospital stay of 2.5 days. Emergency operation after unsuccessful attempts at reduction was required in the other 14 children, increasing the average length of stay to a mean of 4.0 days. Significant complications, including infarction of the testis or ovary, bowel obstruction, intestinal necrosis, wound infection, and recurrent hernia, occurred in 26 of the 85 children (31%). We conclude that incarceration is a preventable problem. Even patients scheduled for hernia repair are at risk and the operation should be performed soon after the diagnosis is made. Infants are the highest priority group, since 35% of children less than 12 months of age experienced incarceration while awaiting elective surgery.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Hernia, Inguinal / complications*
  • Hernia, Inguinal / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Time Factors