, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 339-345
Date: 15 Mar 2013

Long-term follow-up after mesh removal and selective neurectomy for persistent inguinal postherniorrhaphy pain

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Persistent inguinal pain, influencing daily activities, is seen in about 5 % of patients following inguinal herniorrhaphy. Surgical treatment of patients with persistent postherniorrhaphy pain has been associated with pain relief and improvement in functional status. However, the detailed long-term outcome effects remain to be clarified. The aim of this study was to determine the long-term effects of mesh removal and selective neurectomy in patients with persistent postherniorrhaphy pain after previous open repair.


The study consecutively included 54 inguinal postherniorrhaphy pain patients treated with mesh removal and aimed neurectomy. Patients completed questionnaires evaluating pain intensity with a numerical rating scale (NRS) and pain-related functional impairment preoperatively, and, 3, 6, 12, 24, and 36 months postoperatively. Endpoints were changes in pain intensity and functional ability when comparing preoperative and postoperative assessments.


Pain intensities (average, maximum, and during activity) were significantly lower at all time points during follow-up compared to preoperative values (p < 0.01 for all) with a reduction in median (IQR) average pain intensity from 6.0 (5.0–7.0) preoperatively to 3.0 (1.0–5.5) at 36-month follow-up. There was no association between positive pain outcome and intraoperative nerve identification (p = 0.47). The number of patients who reported a long-term negative effect of the operation (≥25 % increase in average pain intensity at 36-month follow-up) was 1 of 8. The functional ability was improved at 3 months after the operation (p < 0.01), but the improvement was not statistically significant in the follow-up period. Preoperative signs of depression, anxiety, and catastrophizing had no influence on outcome.


Mesh removal and attempted neurectomy may provide long-lasting analgesic effects in most patients and with a small proportion being worse, without relation to pain history and operative findings. Detailed multicenter collaboration is required to define preoperative diagnostics and the indication for mesh removal and neurectomy, the exact surgical procedure (type of neurectomy) and with detailed follow-up.

A comment to this article is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10029-013-1109-4.