BACKGROUND: Inguinal hernia is the most common surgical procedure performed in infants. Still, there is major debate about the optimal timing of performing this procedure. The goal of this review is to determine the incidence of inguinal hernia among our infant population in Jordan, review the current practice regarding the timing of repair, and identify the risk of incarceration and postoperative apnea.
METHODS: A retrospective cohort study of chart review of infants admitted with inguinal hernia in the period 2012–2016. Data collected about demographics, timing of diagnosis, timing of repair, exploration of contralateral side, incarceration, and postoperative apnea.
RESULTS: A total of 272 infants were diagnosed with inguinal hernia. The overall incidence was 1.9%, compared with 11% among premature babies <32-week gestation. Half were term, and 23% less than 32-week gestation. Male to female ratio was 5 : 1. Of the 172 babies admitted to the neonatal ICU, only 19 cases (11%) were diagnosed during their NICU stay, and one case got repaired emergently. All cases were repaired by open herniorrhaphy. The median postconceptional age at time of repair was 49 weeks (IQR 45–55), and the median interval between diagnosis and repair was 8 days (IQR 1–17). Incarceration affected 9% and the main risk factor was >7-day delay in repair. Only one case developed apnea and required intubation postoperatively.
CONCLUSIONS: Our approach of elective inguinal hernia repair seems to be safe without increasing risk of complications like incarceration or postoperative apnea if performed within seven days following diagnosis.