Objective: To describe the characteristics of femoral hernias and outcome of femoral repairs, with special emphasis on emergency operations.
Background: Femoral hernias account for 2% to 4% of all groin hernias. However, the lack of large-scale studies has made it impossible to draw conclusions regarding the best management of these hernias.
Methods: The study is based on patients 15 years or older who underwent groin hernia repair 1992 to 2006 at units participating in the Swedish Hernia Register.
Results: Three thousand nine hundred eighty femoral hernia repairs were registered, 1490 on men and 2490 on women: 1430 (35.9%) patients underwent emergency surgery compared with 4.9% of the 138,309 patients with inguinal hernias. Bowel resection was performed in 22.7% (325) of emergent femoral repairs and 5.4% (363) of emergent inguinal repairs. Women had a substantial over risk for undergoing emergency femoral surgery compared with men (40.6% vs. 28.1%). An emergency femoral hernia operation was associated with a 10-fold increased mortality risk, whereas the risk for an elective repair did not exceed that of the general population. In elective femoral hernias, laparoscopic (hazard ratio, 0.31; 95% confidence interval, 0.15–0.67) and open preperitoneal mesh (hazard ratio, 0.28; confidence interval, 0.12–0.65) techniques resulted in fewer re-operations than suture repairs.
Conclusions: Femoral hernias are more common in women and lead to a substantial over risk for an emergency operation, and consequently, a higher rate of bowel resection and mortality. Femoral hernias should be operated with high priority to avoid incarceration and be repaired with a mesh.