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Risk of incarceration in children with inguinal hernia: a systematic review

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BACKGROUND: Surgical repair is recommended for all children with inguinal hernia due to fear of incarceration. The aim of this study was to assess the risk of incarceration and strangulation of inguinal hernias in children treated with delayed surgery or no surgery.

METHODS: Systematic searches were conducted in three databases. We included studies reporting on children with inguinal hernia, with the majority ≤ 10 years old. The interventions were non-acute inguinal hernia surgery or no surgery. The main outcomes were incarceration and strangulation. Secondary outcomes were postoperative complications. Randomized controlled trials, non-randomized controlled trials, and observational studies were included.

RESULTS: We included 22 studies with 14,959 children. All studies reported on elective repairs. None of the studies specifically reported on watchful waiting. Of the studies reporting wait time as mean or median, the median wait time was 46 days (range 1-552). The crude incarceration rate across the included studies was 7% for all children and 11% for preterm children. The testicular atrophy rate was 1% and the recurrence rate was 1%.

CONCLUSIONS: The risk of incarceration in children awaiting inguinal hernia surgery is substantial. In general, we cannot support delaying surgery unnecessarily. However, there may be benefits of delaying surgery in individual cases. In such cases, the surgeon should assess if the benefits may overrule the risk of incarceration.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHernia : the journal of hernias and abdominal wall surgery
Volume23
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)245-254
Number of pages10
ISSN1265-4906
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019

ID: 57443046