Background: Claims that laparoscopic groin hernia repair is followed by less persisting pain and numbness than open mesh repair were tested by follow-up within a multicentre randomized clinical trial.
Methods: Participants in the UK Medical Research Council Laparoscopic Groin Hernia Trial were followed up by means of self-completed postal questionnaires from 2 to 5 years after trial entry. The principal measures were pain (groin and testicular) and numbness (groin and thigh).
Results: Seven hundred and fifty (80.8 per cent) of the original 928 participants returned at least one questionnaire between 2 and 5 years; respondents were similar to the baseline randomized groups. Fewer respondents in the laparoscopic group had groin pain (absolute differences varied between 7.9 and 2.0 per cent, but were of marginal statistical significance); rates of testicular pain were similar in the two groups. Groin numbness was reported about half as commonly at all time points in the laparoscopic group (P < 0.001); there were no significant differences in thigh numbness.
Conclusion: Laparoscopic surgery was associated with less long-term numbness and probably less pain in the groin.