, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 339–345 | Cite as

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

  • J. M. Bischoff
  • C. Enghuus
  • M. U. Werner
  • H. Kehlet
Original Article



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.


Chronic pain Nerve identification Neurectomy Open inguinal herniorrhaphy Postoperative pain 



The research leading to these results is part of the European Collaboration, which has received support from the Innovative Medicines Initiative Joint Undertaking, under Grant Agreement No 115007, resources of which are composed of financial contribution from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) and EFPIA companies’ in kind contribution. The authors thank Morten Bay-Nielsen for surgical collaboration.

Conflict of interest

None declared.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag France 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. M. Bischoff
    • 1
    • 2
  • C. Enghuus
    • 2
  • M. U. Werner
    • 2
  • H. Kehlet
    • 1
  1. 1.Section of Surgical Pathophysiology 4074, RigshospitaletCopenhagen UniversityCopenhagenDenmark
  2. 2.Multidisciplinary Pain Centre 7612, RigshospitaletCopenhagen UniversityCopenhagenDenmark

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