Meta-analysis of the risk of metachronous hernia in infants and children

Am J Surg. 1997 Dec;174(6):741-4. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9610(97)00182-7.


Background: Inguinal herniorrhaphy is the most common general surgical procedure performed in children. The presence of a contralateral patent processus vaginalis forms the basis of the recommendation for contralateral exploration in patients undergoing unilateral herniorrhaphy. However, a patent processus vaginalis does not necessarily go on to become a clinically apparent inguinal hernia.

Methods: All published pediatric series, in which patients underwent unilateral inguinal hernia repair and were evaluated for the development of a metachronous hernia, were included. The incidence of and risk factors associated with development a metachronous hernia were evaluated with meta-analysis.

Results: There were 15,310 patients ranging in age from birth to 16 years, including premature infants. Of these, 1,062 patients (7%) developed a metachronous hernia. Gender and age were not risk factors. There was an 11% risk of metachronous hernia if the original hernia was on the left side, a risk that was 50% greater than if the original hernia was on the right. Of patients who developed a metachronous hernia, 90% did so within 5 years. The complication rate of metachronous hernia was 0.5%.

Conclusion: There is no role for routine contralateral groin exploration. High-risk infants and children, especially those who undergo left inguinal herniorrhaphy, may benefit from contralateral groin exploration. If a patent processus vaginalis is found, it should be ligated. Patients who do not undergo contralateral groin exploration should be followed up for 5 years.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Hernia, Inguinal / complications*
  • Hernia, Inguinal / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Ligation
  • Risk