Some of our patients who present with a hernia on one side ask if we can repair the opposite side at the same time. Especially when we perform a laparoscopic hernia repair, the additional time and effort required to repair the opposite side is minimal. However, as with any procedure in medicine, there is always a risk of a complication. Patients would certainly find it frustrating if we ‘prophylactically’ offered to repair the opposite side even though there was no hernia and the patient developed bleeding or chronic pain after the surgery. Thus, the question is: is it worth repairing the opposite side during a single hernia repair being done laparoscopically?
Currently, based on the data available, the HerniaSurge group cannot definitively recommend one approach over the other. There simply isn’t enough well defined data and medical studies to say whether the complication rate on the side without a hernia is less than the risks of undergoing another surgery in the future if a patient was to develop a hernia at a later time. In our practice, we do not offer elective repair of the opposite side when no hernia is present on examination or based on patients symptoms. As we discussed in an earlier post, over 75% of hernias are diagnosed with just a simple physical examination in the office.
Patients can read more in Chapter 8 of the International Guidelines here: