Inguinal hernia repair remains the commonest operation performed by general surgeons all over the world. There is paucity of published data on surgical management of inguinal hernias in our environment. This study is intended to describe our own experiences in the surgical management of inguinal hernias and compare our results with that reported in literature.
A descriptive prospective study was conducted at Bugando Medical Centre in northwestern Tanzania. Ethical approval to conduct the study was obtained from relevant authorities before the commencement of the study. Statistical data analysis was done using SPSS software version 17.0.
A total of 452 patients with inguinal hernias were enrolled in the study. The median age of patients was 36 years (range 3 months to 78 years). Males outnumbered females by a ratio of 36.7:1. This gender deference was statistically significant (P = 0.003). Most patients (44.7%) presented late (more than five years of onset of hernia). Inguinoscrotal hernia (66.8%) was the commonest presentation. At presentation, 208 (46.0%) patients had reducible hernia, 110 (24.3%) had irreducible hernia, 84 (18.6%) and 50(11.1%) patients had obstructed and strangulated hernias respectively. The majority of patients (53.1%) had right sided inguinal hernia with a right-to-left ratio of 2.1: 1. Ninety-two (20.4%) patients had bilateral inguinal hernias. 296 (65.5%) patients had indirect hernia, 102 (22.6%) had direct hernia and 54 (11.9%) had both indirect and direct types (pantaloon hernia). All patients in this study underwent open herniorrhaphy. The majority of patients (61.5%) underwent elective herniorrhaphy under spinal anaesthesia (69.2%). Local anaesthesia was used in only 1.1% of cases. Bowel resection was required in 15.9% of patients. Modified Bassini’s repair (79.9%) was the most common technique of posterior wall repair of the inguinal canal. Lichtenstein mesh repair was used in only one (0.2%) patient. Complication rate was 12.4% and it was significantly higher in emergency herniorrhaphy than in elective herniorrhaphy (P = 0.002). The median length of hospital stay was 8 days and it was significantly longer in patients with advanced age, delayed admission, concomitant medical illness, high ASA class, the need for bowel resection and in those with surgical repair performed under general anesthesia (P < 0.001). Mortality rate was 9.7%. Longer duration of symptoms, late hospitalization, coexisting disease, high ASA class, delayed operation, the need for bowel resection and presence of complications were found to be predictors of mortality (P < 0.001).
Inguinal hernias continue to be a source of morbidity and mortality in our centre. Early presentation and elective repair of inguinal hernias is pivotal in order to eliminate the morbidity and mortality associated with this very common problem.