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The inheritance of groin hernia: a systematic review



Groin hernia has been proposed to be hereditary; however, a clear hereditary pattern has not been established yet. The purpose of this review was to analyze studies evaluating family history and inheritance patterns and to investigate the possible heredity of groin hernias.


A literature search in the MEDLINE and Embase databases was performed with the following search terms: genetics, heredity, multifactorial inheritance, inheritance patterns, sibling relations, family relations, and abdominal hernia. Only English human clinical or register-based studies describing the inheritance of groin hernias, family history of groin hernias, or familial accumulation of groin hernias were included.


Eleven studies evaluating 37,166 persons were included. The overall findings were that a family history of inguinal hernia was a significant risk factor for the development of a primary hernia. A family history of inguinal hernia showed a tendency toward increased hernia recurrence rate and significantly earlier recurrence. The included studies did not agree on the possible inheritance patterns differing between polygenic inheritance, autosomal dominant inheritance, and multifactorial inheritance. Furthermore, the studies did not agree on the degree of penetrance.


The literature on the inheritance of groin hernias indicates that groin hernia is most likely an inherited disease; however, neither the extent of familial accumulation nor a clear inheritance pattern has yet been found. In order to establish whether groin hernias are accumulated in certain families and to what extent, large register studies based on hernia repair data or clinical examinations are needed.

Groin hernia repair (inguinal and femoral hernia) is among the most commonly performed gastrointestinal surgical procedures [1]. Emergency groin hernia surgery is associated with increased mortality, increased patient-related morbidity, and increased hospital stay compared with elective groin hernia procedures [2, 3]. Identifying patients at high risk of developing groin hernia would therefore provide the possibility of timely elective surgical intervention, thus reducing the rate of emergency procedures. It could also potentially make way for individualized surgical methods in the future.

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Correspondence to J. Burcharth.

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Burcharth, J., Pommergaard, H.C. & Rosenberg, J. The inheritance of groin hernia: a systematic review. Hernia 17, 183–189 (2013).

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  • Inguinal hernia
  • Groin hernia
  • Risk factor
  • Inheritance
  • Systematic review