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Accidental bladder injury during elective inguinal hernia repair: a preventable complication with high morbidity

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Bladder injury (BI) represents a rare complication of inguinal hernia surgery. Protrusions of the urinary bladder through the deep inguinal ring (“bladder ears”) have been reported with an incidence of 9% in infants younger than 6 months of age and may be misinterpreted as the hernia sac. This literature review was designed to determine incidence and outcomes of bladder injuries during pediatric inguinal hernia repair.


A literature review of the literature (1967–2017) was performed using the keywords “bladder ears”, “inguinal hernia”, “iatrogenic bladder injury” and “bladder hernia”. Publications were reviewed for epidemiology, presentation and extent of injury, treatment and outcome.


Thirteen articles reporting on 30 cases of BI during inguinal hernia repair from 1967 to 2017 were included (19 boys, 2 girls, 9 unknown). Median age at herniotomy was 10.5 months (1 month–6 years). Out of 30 children, 14 (47%) experienced mild complications. Sixteen patients (53%) had severe complications after initial surgery and needed revisional surgery. Complications were noticed up to 4 years after the initial surgery. In 9 (56%) of the 16 severe cases, major damage to the bladder wall and impairment of bladder capacity occurred. In seven patients (44%), secondary closure was successful. In ten patients (63%), the bladder was partially resected, and in one child (6%), the entire bladder was removed.


The degree of accidental BI during inguinal hernia repair was severe in in the majority of reported cases in the literature. Surgeons should be aware of the high prevalence of “bladder ears” in infants to prevent injury to the urinary tract.

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Correspondence to Jan-Hendrik Gosemann.

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Duess, J.W., Schaller, MC., Lacher, M. et al. Accidental bladder injury during elective inguinal hernia repair: a preventable complication with high morbidity. Pediatr Surg Int 36, 235–239 (2020).

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