Inguinal hernia repair is one of the most frequently conducted surgical procedures worldwide. Totally extraperitoneal (TEP) hernioplasty has shown many advantages over traditional open surgery. However, because of increased surgical complexity, it requires more practice to achieve optimal results.
The aim of this study is to evaluate the learning curve for TEP hernioplasty, analysing parameters related to the mean operating time. The secondary objective is to assess the complications and early discharge rates related to this procedure.
A prospective study of 238 consecutive patients undergoing TEP hernioplasty from the same practitioner between May 2009 and May 2014, in a specialised centre for abdominal hernias in Sao Paulo, Brazil, was conducted. All data were obtained through medical records.
The study included 137 patients undergoing a total of 157 TEP hernia repairs. Bilaterality and complications can influence the operating time and so were excluded. Patients with unilateral surgery and without complications were included. Patients were chronologically divided into four groups. Groups 1–3 were composed of 35 patients and group 4 of 32. There were no significant variations in clinical characteristics between the groups. The plateau of the learning curve was reached on the 65 th repetition of the surgery, with a mean operating time of 28 min (p < 0,05). Complications were only observed in the first group of 35 patients. 97% of patients were discharged early, defined as patient leaving hospital less than 12 h after surgery.
After an initial reduction, the mean operating time stabilised after 65 cases. A reduction in the rate of complications was observed after 35 cases, and a rate of 97% of early discharge was achieved.