Chronic pain is common after inguinal hernia repair and has become one of the most important outcome measures for this procedure. The purpose of this study was to determine whether or not there is a relationship between specific postoperative complications and risk for chronic pain after open inguinal hernia repair.METHODS
A prospective cohort study was designed in which participants responded to the Inguinal Pain Questionnaire regarding postoperative groin pain 8 years after inguinal hernia repair. Responses to the questionnaire were matched with data from a previous study regarding reported postoperative complications after open inguinal hernia repair. Participants were recruited originally from the Swedish Hernia Register. Response rate was 82.4% (952/1,155). The primary outcome was chronic pain in the operated groin at follow-up. Grading of pain was performed using the Inguinal Pain Questionnaire.RESULTS
A total of 170 patients (17.9%) reported groin pain and 29 patients (3.0%) reported severe groin pain. The risk for developing chronic groin pain was greater in patients with severe pain in the preoperative or immediate postoperative period (odds ratio 2.09; 95% confidence interval 1.28–3.41). Risk for chronic pain decreased for every 1-year increase in age at the time of operation (odds ratio 0.99, 95% confidence interval 0.98–1.00).CONCLUSION
Both preoperative pain and pain in the immediate postoperative period are strong risk factors for chronic groin pain. Risk factor patterns should be considered before operative repair of presumed symptomatic inguinal hernias. The problem of postoperative pain must be addressed regarding both pre-emptive and postoperative analgesia.