The timing of bilateral hernia repair remains controversial. Because of reported high recurrence rates after simultaneous bilateral repair, staged procedures have been suggested. This study determined recurrence and complication rates of unilateral versus simultaneous bilateral repair. Of 659 patients undergoing hernia repair between 1974 and 1980, 333 underwent unilateral repair and 329 had simultaneous bilateral repair. More than 90% of patients were followed until death or a minimum of 60 months (median, 104 months). Perioperative complications were associated with 18% of repairs. More morbidity occurred in the bilateral group. However complication rates for specific events were not significantly different, except for urinary retention, which occurred in 20 patients (6.1%) of the unilateral group and 49 (15%) of the bilateral group (p < 0.001). Overall 25 recurrences occurred in the unilateral group and 31 in the bilateral group. Recurrence rates at 5 and 9 years were, respectively, 4.8% and 8.8% in the unilateral group and 5.0% and 9.1% in the bilateral group (p = 0.861). These data suggest that simultaneous bilateral inguinal herniorrhaphy does not result in increased rates of most postoperative complications or recurrence when compared with unilateral repair.
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