Although the increased occurrence of inguinal hernias (IH) in premature children is well known, its incidence in the very low birth weight (VLBW, <1,500 g) subpopulation has not been previously established. Additionally, because of associated problems, these children present the surgeon with a dilemma in regards to the most appropriate time for repair. We sought to determine the incidence of IH, rate of incarceration, perioperative problems, and to possibly define the ideal time for correction. Between 1977 and 1987, 1,933 children under 1,500 g birth weight were admitted to our neonatal intensive care unit. Of these, 1,391 lived for at least 28 days and were followed until 20 months corrected age. IH was diagnosed in 222 of 1,391 (16%) of those who survived 28 days or more. IH occurred in 174 of 670 (26%) of the boys and 48 of 721 (7%) of the girls. The incidence by side was right 19.8%, left 14.9%, bilateral 61.7%, and was unclear 3.6%. Of the 222 infants with IH, 192 were operated at our institution at a mean postnatal age of 28 weeks (range, 5 to 110 weeks). Of these, 35 were operated prior to neonatal discharge. One or more incarcerations occurred in 35 VLBW operated at this hospital. In only one infant, an emergency operation was needed because of irreducibility. There was no operative mortality and minimal morbidity. Five recurrences occurred during the 20 months' follow-up. This series establishes the incidence of IH in VLBW (during the first 20 months). The wide range in age at operation suggests that no single criterion can be established for ideal timing of repair. Therefore, the approach must be individualized.
- Inguinal hernia
- low birth weight infants
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health