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Background

Chronic pain remains a frequent complication after Lichtenstein inguinal hernia repair. As a consequence, mesh fixation using glue instead of sutures has become popular. This meta-analysis aimed to clarify which fixation technique is to be preferred for elective Lichtenstein inguinal hernia repair.

Methods

A meta-analysis was conducted according to the PRISMA guidelines. Articles published between January 1990 and April 2012 were searched for in MEDLINE, Embase and the Cochrane Library. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comparing glue and sutured mesh fixation in elective Lichtenstein repair for unilateral inguinal hernia were included. The quality of the RCTs and the potential risk of bias were assessed using the Cochrane risk of bias tool.

Results

Of 254 papers found in the initial search, a meta-analysis was conducted of seven RCTs comprising 1185 patients. With the use of glue mesh fixation, the duration of operation was shorter (mean difference −2·57 (95 per cent confidence interval (c.i.) –4·88 to −0·26) min; P = 0·03), patients had lower visual analogue scores for postoperative pain (mean difference −0·75 (−1·18 to −0·33); P = 0·001), early chronic pain occurred less often (risk ratio 0·52, 95 per cent c.i. 0·31 to 0·87; P = 0·01), and time to return to daily activities was shorter (mean difference −1·17 (−2·30 to −0·03) days; P = 0·04). The hernia recurrence rate did not differ significantly.

Conclusion

Elective Lichtenstein repair for inguinal hernia using glue mesh fixation compared with sutures is faster and less painful, with comparable hernia recurrence rates.