Femoral hernias commonly present as an emergency with a large proportion strangulated or with contents that are threatened. Many surgical options are available including minimally invasive surgery and multiple open approaches. A low approach allows a relatively simple repair of the hernia and has a long-established history of safety with reproducible outcomes and low recurrence rates. It is technically less challenging than a high approach but does not allow easy assessment or management of hernia sac contents. We highlight and describe a technique that can be used when the hernia reduces spontaneously at induction, or when the surgeon cannot be confident that the contents are viable. Hernioscopy is the technique of utilizing a laparoscope inserted via the hernia sac to either examine the abdominal contents or facilitate the safe creation of pneumoperitoneum and further insertion of ports transabdominally when the patient has pelvic adhesions. We describe the operative steps taken to make this a feasible approach and reduce the need for unnecessary laparotomies and the associated morbidity.
Background: Femoral hernias are a relatively rare type of hernia but have a high complication rate, with a high proportion either presenting as an emergency or requiring emergency management. Minimal access surgery has been shown to be safe, with good results, in an elective setting, but there is little published evidence of its utility in an emergency.Methods: A systematic review was conducted searching PubMed, OVID, Embase, and Cochrane reviews for ((Femoral hernia) AND (laparoscop* OR minimal access OR robotic)) AND (strangulat* OR obstruct* OR incarcerat*).Results: 286 manuscripts were identified of which 33 were relevant. 24 were individual case reports, 3 case series, 4 cohort studies or case control series, and 2 high level reviews of National registers.Conclusion: Minimal access surgery can avoid an unnecessary laparotomy for the assessment of hernial contents, especially via a TAPP approach. Minimal access repair of femoral hernias as an emergency is feasible and can be done safely with results similar to open surgery but good quality evidence is lacking.
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