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Inguinal Hernia in Premature Infants: To Operate Before or After Discharge from Hospital?

J Pediatr Surg. 2023 Oct 20:S0022-3468(23)00637-1. doi: 10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2023.10.027. Online ahead of print.


INTRODUCTION: This study aims to find out the optimal timing for herniotomy for premature infants with inguinal hernia (IH): early during hospitalisation or delayed after hospital discharge.

METHOD: A retrospective cohort study was conducted on premature infants diagnosed with IH during their initial hospitalization between 2015 and 2020. Demographic data and clinical outcomes were compared between infants undergoing herniotomy before discharge (“early”) and those who were discharged without herniotomy (“delayed”). Student’s t-test or Mann-Whitney U test and Fisher’s exact test were used for statistical analysis.

RESULTS: Of 219 premature infants, 189 (86.3%) underwent early herniotomy, while 30 were discharged with unoperated IH. In the delayed group, 15 (50%) underwent planned delayed herniotomy, and the remaining 15 experienced spontaneous resolution (absence of inguinal bulge over at least 1-year follow-up). The gestational age and birth weight of both groups were similar. At surgery, the delayed group median (interquartile range) was significantly older (42.1[38-49] vs 37.7 [36-40] weeks, p < 0.001) and heavier (3.27 [2.21-4.60] vs 2.22 [2.00-2.70] kg, p < 0.001). Two infants (1%) in the early group presented with incarcerated IH requiring urgent operation. In the delayed group, no infant developed incarcerated IH while awaiting elective operation (time from diagnosis to operation 44 [21-85] days). There was no statistically significant difference in respiratory and surgical complications between the two groups, although the delayed group had lesser surgical complications (0% vs 9.5%).

CONCLUSION: Deferring herniotomy after discharge for premature infants is safe with close monitoring and associated with a chance of spontaneous resolution.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Level III, treatment study.

PMID:37968149 | DOI:10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2023.10.027

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