Laparoscopic total extraperitoneal (TEP) inguinal hernia repair: Overcoming the learning curve
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Background: Total extraperitoneal (TEP) laparoscopic inguinal hernia repair is preferred to the transabdominal preperitoneal (TAPP) repair since it preserves peritoneal integrity. However, in general it is considered to be more difficult than the latter because of the peculiarity of anatomy and limitation of working space. Therefore it has been assigned with a “steep learning curve” that the surgeon needs to climb steadily and slowly. This paper offers a working protocol, which is aimed at reducing the steep limb of this curve. Methods: A total of 61 patients were studied between April 2000 and September 2002. Of these, five patients had a open unilateral Stoppa’s preperitoneal operation to learn the detailed anatomy of the extraperitoneal space. Thereafter, laparoscopic TEP procedure was started in the following 56 cases by P.L. In case of difficulty, the procedure was to be converted to the open preperitoneal operation only. Of the first 10 cases, five were converted to unilateral Stoppa’s preperitoneal operation for various reasons, and one case was converted after 30 cases. Thus a total of 11 cases were completed by open unilateral Stoppa’s preperitoneal operation and 50 cases were completed laparoscopically. The first 30 cases started initially as laparoscopic operations were analyzed in groups of 10 each and compared to another study from Netherlands (evaluating four surgeons) wherein the initial laparoscopic procedures were started with the assistance of a surgeon well experienced in laparoscopic TEP operation. Results: The comparison of our first 30 cases with the Netherlands group showed that while the conversions (five cases) to open operation were higher in the first 10 cases, there were no conversions in the next 20 cases. Also, there were no complications or recurrences in the present study, in striking contrast to three recurrences and 10 complications in the comparative study. The following 26 cases were associated with no recurrence or major complication. Conclusion: In this study we performed a total of 11 open unilateral Stoppa’s preperitoneal procedures in our attempt to learn the anatomy of this extraperitoneal space better, and in the absence of any surgeon experienced in laparoscopic TEP procedure. We were able to place a large mesh in each and every case and also recognize double hernias in six cases, thus preventing recurrences and complications. We strongly recommend a minimum of 10 open Stoppa’s preperitoneal procedures, to enable a trained laparoscopic surgeon to start laparoscopic TEP operation independently and in the absence of another trained laparoscopic hernia surgeon, whose presence may not prevent complications and recurrences.
KeywordsLaparoscopy Laparoscopic hernia repair Laparoscopic herniorrhaphy Learning curve
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