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Endoscopic surgical repair of inguinal hernia is currently conducted using 2 techniques: the totally extraperitoneal (TEP) and the transabdominal (TAPP) hernia repair. The TEP procedure is technically advantageous, because of the use of no mesh fixation and the elimination of the peritoneal flap, leading to less postoperative pain and faster recovery. The drawback is that TEP is not performed as frequently, because of its complexity and longer learning curve. In this study, we propose a hybrid technique that could potentially become the gold standard of minimally invasive inguinal hernia surgery. This will be achieved by combining established advantages of TEP and TAPP associated with the precision and cosmetics of minilaparoscopy (MINI).
Between January and July 2011, 22 patients were admitted for endoscopic inguinal hernia repair. The combined technique was initiated with TAPP inspection and direct visualization of a minilaparoscopic trocar dissection of the preperitoneum space. A10-mm trocar was then placed inside the previously dissected preperitoneal space, using the same umbilical TAPP skin incision. Minilaparoscopic retroperitoneal dissection was completed by TEP, and the surgical procedure was finalized with intraperitoneal review and correction of the preperitoneal work.
The minilaparoscopic TEP-TAPP combined approach for inguinal hernia is feasible, safe, and allows a simple endoscopic repair. This is achieved by combining features and advantages of both TAPP and TEP techniques using precise and sophisticated MINI instruments. Minilaparoscopic preperitoneal dissection allows a faster and easier creation of the preperitoneal space for the TEP component of the procedure.
Two main laparoscopic techniques are currently used for the surgical repair of inguinal hernias: the totally extraperitoneal hernioplasty (TEP) and the transabdominal technique with preperitoneal fixing of mesh (TAPP). Over the years, TEP has proven to be more efficient than TAPP, with very similar results to the best open surgery techniques.1,2 TEP eliminates the need to create a peritoneal flap and mesh fixation, resulting in minor postoperative pain and faster recovery.1,3–5
Minilaparoscopy (MINI) is a natural advancement of laparoscopy, because it diminishes surgical trauma by reducing the diameter of the standard laparoscopic instruments.6,7 Improvement was observed in surgical precision during dynamic tasks (e.g., dissection of hernia sac), by using longer, low-friction, and more sophisticated trocars, resulting in reduced stress and higher efficacy. Trocar dislocation and skin reinsertions were significantly diminished, consequently reducing skin trauma and improving aesthetics.8
Although valuable in several ways, TEP has not been widely adopted, because of its complexity in creating the preperitoneal space and understanding its anatomy. In addition, TEP does not allow intraperitoneal inspection, which is crucial for treating incarcerated hernias.1,3–5 By combining the established advantages of TEP with those of TAPP associated with the precision and cosmetics of MINI, we propose a technique that could potentially become the gold standard of minimally invasive inguinal hernia surgery.
Between January and September 2011, 21 male patients and 1 female patient underwent surgery. Three had bilateral hernias, one of which was discovered intraoperatively. Among the total, 14 hernias were on the right side and 11 were on the left. Among the unilateral hernias, 7 were simultaneously direct and indirect, 5 were recurrent, and 3 were incarcerated. Seventeen patients also had small umbilical hernias, associated with pain in 2 patients. The MINI instruments used are summarized in Figure 1, and the surgical steps are summarized in Figures 2 through through77. The procedure starts with the creation of an open pneumoperitoneum (Figure 2). After local anesthesia infiltration [buvicaine (0.25%): 20 mL], a vertical transumbilical incision is performed in the infraumbilical direction. The aponeurotic umbilical orifice is carefully dilated with the tip of a needle holder. A 10-mm trocar with a blunt dilating tip is gently inserted within the aponeurotic orifice. A 10-mm 30-degree laparoscope is used throughout the procedure. Veress needle and 3-mm scope are not used.7 After inspection of the abdominal cavity, the first 3.5-mm trocar is inserted by transperitoneal visualization, medial to the epigastric vessels using a 3-mm blunt dilating tip insert, to avoid peritoneal perforation. This mini trocar is then used to make a small dissection under laparoscopic direct vision, between the peritoneum and the muscle-aponeurotic planes. After removing the insert, CO2 is connected to the mini trocar by a Luer lock. A second 3-mm trocar can be inserted to facilitate the dissection of the preperitoneal space by bimanual technique. The 10-mm intraperitoneal umbilical trocar valve is left open halfway. At this point, we can directly visualize the CO2 inflation and the creation of the preperitoneal space, as previously described (Figure 3).9 After preperitoneal inflation, an 18-F catheter is left inside the abdomen through the umbilicus to drain the CO2 that could possibly escape from the preperitoneal space, either by diffusion or accidental damage of the peritoneum during hernia sac dissection. The 10-mm trocar is reintroduced by the same umbilical skin incision, but directed toward the preperitoneal space, providing the room needed for dissection. A balloon dissector is not needed, because the proper workspace is progressively established with the tip of the optics, and 3-mm dissection instruments are introduced by the 3.5-mm trocars. At the end of the setup, a transperitoneal hole is kept open by an 18-F catheter. An additional aponeurotic hole with a 10-mm trocar, and 2 more 3.5-mm mini working trocars are the optical paths to the preperitoneal space. The TEP part of the procedure can be carried out under direct preperitoneal view. After acquiring adequate preperitoneal space to fully understand the inguinal anatomy, by using bimanual dissection, the hernia sac is properly dissected and the preperitoneal space is expanded to accommodate a 13 × 15-cm polypropylene mesh with rounded edges. At this point, the hernia orifice and the inguinal anatomic landmarks, including the vas deferens, the gonadal and epigastric vessels can be visualized (Figures 4 through through66). The polypropylene mesh is blindly inserted through the 10-mm trocar and completely covers the entire inguinal-crural region. Preperitoneal CO2 is released allowing the peritoneum to compress the mesh keeping it in place and eliminating the need for mesh fixation. After positioning the mesh correctly, the 10-mm trocar is removed and reintroduced into the abdominal cavity, through the hole kept open by the 18-F catheter. This is done to correctly observe the mesh inner aspect, which should appear correctly placed without folds. If the mesh needs to be rearranged, one or two 3.5-mm trocars can be introduced laparoscopically through the same skin holes into the peritoneal cavity (Figure 7). Subsequently, CO2 is fully evacuated and the umbilicus is closed. Mini trocar incisions do not require suturing covered with surgical tape. Our preliminary results show a mean operative time of 43 min. Two accidental peritoneum perforations occurred, and at the end the procedure, 2 peritoneal perforations and 6 transected inguinal scrotal hernia sacs were sutured laparoscopically, after proper TEP mesh accommodation. We prefer laparoscopic suturing, because it is easier and faster. There were no conversions and no intraoperative complications. Small hematomas were found in the scrotum and penis of 4 patients, but were not considered of clinical relevance. One patient developed an asymptomatic small hydrocele, partially regressed after 2 mo, but no infection occurred. All patients were discharged within 6 h to 16 h of the end of the procedure, and analgesics were administered as needed. No patient used analgesics for more than 5 d, and no pain was reported for longer than a week. No recurrence was observed during the 3-mo follow-up period. All patients were very satisfied with the overall results of the surgery, and they all returned to their activities 3 d to 2 wk after the procedure.
TAPP and TEP are the most prominent laparoscopic techniques for inguinal hernioplasty and are both effective and safe. MINI is a refined laparoscopic technique that uses instruments with reduced diameter. MINI was originally used for TEP in the late 1990s,10–12 although an interest in the technique has recently been revived.13 Due to the use of thinner instruments, MINI not only improves aesthetics, but also provides better visibility, especially in the narrow retroperitoneal space. With the development of new low-friction trocars, MINI can be performed with better ergonomy and higher precision. The TAPP hernia repair provides additional space within the intraabdominal cavity, facilitating routine evaluation of intraabdominal organs. By using this approach, it is possible to diagnose and treat additional hernias and other intraabdominal diseases. TAPP allows the treatment of incarcerated and strangulated hernias, through evaluation of ischemic bowel viability. It also allows the diagnosis and treatment of unsuspected bilateral hernias, which can occur in up to 25% of assumed unilateral hernias.14 Despite the advantages, TAPP is costly and time consuming. It requires mesh fixation with either staples or sutures and closure of the peritoneum flap, which is technically difficult. TEP is an attractive technique due to its simplicity, speed of execution, low cost, and it minimizes the risk of complications, because it eliminates the need for laborious opening and peritoneum closure.1,3,15
Initial transperitoneal access facilitates TEP. TAPP is immediately followed by TEP as previously described,16–18 but in this particular case the combination of the 2 techniques is contraindicated. The addition of MINI allows easy exchange of trocar position between the intra- and extraperitoneal spaces, increasing flexibility of laparoscopic hernioplasty.
In addition to increasing visibility of the preperitoneal space, this combined approach also provides a number of benefits over TEP alone. It allows adequate evaluation of all the anatomical elements involved in hernia repair, and addresses unusual situations, such as underestimated hernia size, direct coalescing bilateral hernias, displaced epigastric vessels and abdominal contents within the hernia sac. This anatomical preview may decrease potentially severe perioperative complications.
When an opening of the peritoneum occurs due to technical difficulties or the presence of large inguinal scrotal hernias, the correction can be made by transperitoneal access. This complication was detected and fixed in 5 patients by the use of 3.5-mm trocars inserted intraperitoneally and subsequently sutured. This technique also helped correcting the mesh positioning in case of small folds.
The combination of MINI-TEP-TAPP with the use of MINI instruments is simple, safe, and versatile. Reduced costs can be anticipated, because the use of balloon dissection and mesh fixation is eliminated. Minilaparoscopic preperitoneal dissection also allows faster and easier formation of the preperitoneal space, reducing the learning curve.
Gustavo L. Carvalho, Oswaldo Cruz University Hospital and UNIPECLIN, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Pernambuco – Recife.
Marcelo P. Loureiro, Positivo University - Curitiba, Brazil.
Eduardo A Bonin, Positivo University - Curitiba, Brazil.
Christiano P. Claus, Positivo University - Curitiba, Brazil.
Frederico W. Silva, Oswaldo Cruz University Hospital and UNIPECLIN, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Pernambuco – Recife.
Antonio M. Cury, Positivo University - Curitiba, Brazil.
Flavio A.M. Fernandes, Jr., Oswaldo Cruz University Hospital and UNIPECLIN, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Pernambuco – Recife.