Does the Incidence of Postoperative Complications After Inguinal Hernia Repair Justify Hospital Admission in Prematurely and Term Born Infants?

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Postoperatively, young infants are admitted overnight in view of the risk for respiratory complications such as desaturation and apnea. This risk seems much lower than previously reported. Until what age this risk persists, and which infants might actually qualify for day-care treatment, is unknown.


We retrospectively reviewed medical charts from preterm infants <45 weeks postconceptional age (PCA), 45–60 weeks PCA, and term infants <3 months admitted overnight after inguinal hernia repair, from January 2011 to December 2015 in a large tertiary children’s hospital. Postoperative complications (divided into respiratory, circulatory, neurologic, and other), recurrence, and reoperation were documented and compared between groups.


Medical charts of 485 patients were reviewed. Postoperative respiratory complications (mainly desaturations or apnea) had been documented for 27 of 76 (35.5%) preterm infants <45 weeks PCA, for 13 of 221 (5.9%) preterm infants 45–60 weeks PCA, and for 3 of 188 (1.6%) term infants (P < .001). An analysis of the 221 preterm infants 45–60 weeks PCA showed statistically significantly more respiratory complications in 76 infants with a respiratory history (eg, bronchopulmonary dysplasia) compared with the others (respectively 13.2% vs 0.7%; P < .001). In these infants, lower gestational age at the time of surgery was statistically significantly predictive for the development of respiratory complications (odds ratio [OR], 0.68 [95% confidence interval {CI}, 0.52–0.89]; P = .005), but respiratory history (OR, 3.50 [0.34–36.28]; P = .294) and American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) physical status (OR, 1.54 [95% CI, 0.31–7.65]; P = .598 for ASA physical status II and OR, 6.11 [95% CI, 0.76–49.05]; P = .089 for ASA physical status III) were not predictive.


Incidence of postoperative respiratory complications is high in preterm infants <45 weeks PCA requiring postoperative overnight saturation and heart rate monitoring. Incidence of postoperative complications in preterm born infants 45–60 weeks PCA varies. Gestational age and possibly presence of respiratory history can be used to estimate the need for overnight admission in these infants. Postoperative respiratory complications after inguinal hernia repair in ASA physical status I and II term born infants >1 month of age are uncommon, which justifies day-care admission for this type of surgical procedure.

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