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Excellent outcomes after emergency groin hernia repair

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Emergency repair of incarcerated inguinal and femoral hernias has traditionally been regarded as carrying an increased risk of morbidity and mortality in a patient population that tends to be elderly with significant co-morbidities. Excessive waiting times for elective repair and delays in diagnosis and treatment increase the risk of strangulation, bowel resection and overall mortality. This study examined the management of emergency surgery for groin hernias for a 3 year period in a large teaching hospital.


The notes of all patients undergoing emergency groin hernia repair in our hospital between 1 January 2005 and 31 December 2007 were examined. Patient demographics and details of perioperative course and outcome were analysed.


Seventy-nine (50 males) patients had emergency groin hernia repair in the 3 year study period. Inguinal hernias predominated (61 vs 18); 12/79 (15%) had previously been assessed as outpatients prior to emergency presentation—all had inguinal hernias and nine (11.4 %) were on the waiting list for elective repair at the time of emergency surgery (mean wait 59 days). Complications were observed in 24% of patients. Two patients (2.5%) required small bowel resection, both performed without recourse to formal laparotomy, and two patients died within 30 days of surgery (2.5%).


It is possible to achieve excellent complication, bowel resection and 30-day mortality rates in emergency groin hernia repair even in patients who have previously declined surgery due to perceived anaesthetic risks. As NHS waiting times for surgery decrease, the number of hernias repaired emergently whilst awaiting elective surgery will also fall.

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The authors would like to thank the Information Department at the Northern General Hospital, Sheffield, for their help in acquiring the data for this study.

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Correspondence to J. P. Tiernan.

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Tiernan, J.P., Katsarelis, H., Garner, J.P. et al. Excellent outcomes after emergency groin hernia repair. Hernia 14, 485–488 (2010).

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