Repair of recurrent groin hernias is associated with a high incidence of repeat recurrences (2-19%). Reported herein is a 10-year experience of the management of recurrent groin hernias through the use of the preperitoneal approach with the addition of a reinforcing prosthetic mesh buttress. Two hundred and three recurrent groin hernias in 195 patients (192 men, three women) were treated between July 1975 and October 1986. The preperitoneal approach to the inguinal region was performed under regional anesthesia to define the nature of the recurrent hernia. Initial experience in a randomized trial between the use of local endogenous tissue repair versus endogenous repair with a prosthetic polypropylene mesh buttress demonstrated superiority of the latter in reducing repeat recurrences of anatomically defined direct or combined recurrent hernias. Pure indirect and femoral recurrences did not mandate mesh reinforcement. Long-term follow-up was available for 115 hernias (56%) in 102 patients (52.3%) over a period of 6 months to 10 years. Eight patients had repeat recurrences a mean of 30 +/- 22 months after repair. Six recurrences (four direct, two indirect) occurred in an early experience, when no mesh was used. Two recurrences (one indirect and one lateral to the mesh) representing 1% of all hernias (1.7% of those followed-up) have occurred after routine use of the mesh buttress, with the last re-recurrence seen in December 1982. Three ventral hernias (1.5%) occurred at the wound of entry, but none have occurred since placement of the mesh was modified to cover this wound. There were five (2.5%) wound infections and one (0.5%) hydrocele with no re-recurrences. It is concluded that the preperitoneal approach to recurrent groin hernias, together with the appropriate use of a reinforcing mesh buttress, is safe, allows anatomic definition of the hernial defect, and is followed by few repeated recurrences. The evolution of this approach during the last 10 years has made it the procedure of choice for the management of all recurrent groin hernias at the University of Illinois College of Medicine
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