Recurrence after totally extraperitoneal laparoscopic repair: implications for operative technique and surgical training.
Lamb ADG., Robson AJ., Nixon SJ.
BACKGROUND: The totally extraperitoneal (TEP) approach is increasingly favoured for inguinal hernia repair. The learning curve is slow with high, early recurrence rates but the exact cause of recurrence is unknown. OBJECTIVE: To determine the reasons for recurrence, identify the critical operative steps and examine the influence of surgical experience and training on results. PATIENTS AND METHODS: All patients undergoing TEP between 1993 and 2004 were included. Patients requiring re-operation for recurrence were identified and examined in detail. RESULTS: Eight surgical teams performed 1682 TEP repairs. Fifty five hernias recurred (3.27%) with a median follow-up of seven years (range 1-11 years). In six recurrences, the first repair was itself for recurrence and in 24, the initial repair was bilateral. The initial hernia was direct in 26 and indirect in 29 patients. These distributions were similar to a control sample. At re-operation, indirect recurrence was more common with 18 direct, and 37 indirect cases (P=0.020). At re-operation, when the original mesh could be identified (18 repairs), it appeared to have moved superiorly in 13 cases. Typically, recurrence occurred in 10% of a surgeon's first 20 cases, 4% of the next 60 cases and falling to below 2% thereafter. CONCLUSION: TEP repairs have a tendency for indirect recurrence even after direct repair. Meshes tend to migrate superiorly. Results suggest that recurrence occurs most often because of failure to fully expose the deep inguinal ring and/or to adequately spread the mesh inferiorly and laterally. We recommend particular attention be paid to these technical aspects. Acceptable results are obtainable after an experience of 20 cases but further improvement in results occurs as experience reaches 80 operations. With a large number of consultants having little or no experience in TEP surgery, there is an urgent need for 'hands-on' training courses so that all patients have access to TEP, particularly those with bilateral or recurrent inguinal herniae.