Abdominal wall hernias are common. Various authors all quote the following order (in decreasing frequency): inguinal, femoral, umbilical followed by rarer forms. But are these figures outdated? We investigated the epidemiology of hernia repair (retrospective review) over 30 years to determine whether the relative frequencies of hernias are evolving.
All hernia repairs undertaken in consecutive adult patients were assessed. Data included: patient demographics; hernia type; and operation details. Data were analysed using Microsoft Excel 2007 and SPSS.
A single United Kingdom hospital trust during three periods: 1985–1988; 1995–1998; and 2005–2008.
Main outcome measures
Frequency data of different hernia types during three time periods, patient demographic data.
Over the three time periods, 2389 patients underwent 2510 hernia repairs (i.e. including bilateral and multiple hernias in a single patient). Inguinal hernia repair was universally the commonest hernia repair, followed by umbilical, epigastric, para-umbilical, incisional and femoral, respectively. Whereas femoral hernia repair was the second commonest in the 1980s, it had become the fifth most common by 2005–2008. While the proportion of groin hernia repairs has decreased over time, the proportion of midline abdominal wall hernias has increased.
The current relative frequency of different hernia repair type is: inguinal; umbilical; epigastric; incisional; para-umbilical; femoral; and finally other types e.g. spigelian. This contrasts with hernia incidence figures quoted in common reference books.