Introduction: Surgical exploration of the groin with subsequent herniorrhaphy has been recommended for obscure groin pain in athletes. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of endoscopic preperitoneal herniorrhaphy and, if indicated, contralateral groin exploration in professional athletes with groin pain.
Patients and methods: Eight professional athletes presented with groin pain and underwent endoscopic preperitoneal herniorrhaphy between February 1994 and May 1996. All athletes were male with a median age of 25.1 years (range: 22-30). Seven of the athletes complained of unilateral groin pain while one patient had bilateral pain. Seven had undergone previous conservative treatment without success. Despite multiple examinations, only two patients had been diagnosed with hernias prior to referral to the surgeon. Of the remaining six patients, all were found to have small inguinal hernias in the symptomatic groin. Seven of the patients were noted to have bilateral pathology.
Results: Operative time averaged 55.3 min. All patients were ambulatory without significant difficulty within the first 24 h, discontinued oral narcotic use within 72 h of surgery, and were back to recreational activities within 1 week. Aerobic conditioning was resumed within a maximum of 2 weeks. Full conditioning and/or return to full competition occurred within a 2- to 3-week period. At the time of 4 week follow-up, all athletes reported no more than minimal postexertional discomfort, with near total relief of early postoperative symptoms. No athletes noted any impairment in their ability to perform at peak levels.
Conclusions: Groin pain in athletes is a difficult problem requiring a multidisciplinary approach to diagnosis and treatment planning. Endoscopic preperitoneal herniorrhaphy is an effective treatment for obscure groin pain when the pain is associated with an inguinal hernia and allows for a short recovery time back to full athletic activity.