Background: Inguinal hernias can be repaired by laparoscopic techniques, which have had better results than open surgery in several small studies.
Methods: We performed a randomized, multicenter trial in which 487 patients with inguinal hernias were treated by extraperitoneal laparoscopic repair and 507 patients were treated by conventional anterior repair. We recorded information about postoperative recovery and complications and examined the patients for recurrences one and six weeks, six months, and one and two years after surgery.
Results: Six patients in the open-surgery group but none in the laparoscopic-surgery group had wound abscesses (P=0.03), and the patients in the laparoscopic-surgery group had a more rapid recovery (median time to the resumption of normal daily activity, 6 vs. 10 days; time to the return to work, 14 vs. 21 days; and time to the resumption of athletic activities, 24 vs. 36 days; P<0.001 for all comparisons). With a median follow-up of 607 days, 31 patients (6 percent) in the open-surgery group had recurrences, as compared with 17 patients (3 percent) in the laparoscopic-surgery group (P=0.05). All but three of the recurrences in the latter group were within one year after surgery and were caused by surgeon-related errors. In the open-surgery group, 15 patients had recurrences during the first year, and 16 during the second year. Follow-up was complete for 97 percent of the patients.
Conclusions: Patients with inguinal hernias who undergo laparoscopic repair recover more rapidly and have fewer recurrences than those who undergo open surgical repair.