PURPOSE: The objective of this review was to systematically evaluate the incidence of a metachronous contralateral inguinal hernia (MCIH) in children with unilateral inguinal hernia and therefore to propose or to reject routine contralateral groin exploration.
METHODS: Electronic searches restricted to prospective studies with a minimal follow-up of 1year included MEDLINE, EMBASE and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials.
RESULTS: Six studies involving 1669 children were included. Overall MCIH was 6% (95% CI from 4% to 8%). The odds for MCIH development were significantly larger in children with an initial left-sided hernia (OR 2.66 with 95% CI from 1.56 to 4.53) and in children with open contralateral processus vaginalis (CPV) (OR 4.17 with 95% CI from 1.25 to 13.9).
CONCLUSIONS: The overall incidence of MCIH following unilateral inguinal hernia repair in children is 6%. Initial left-sided hernia (8.5%) and open CPV (13.8%) are risk factors for MCIH development. Female gender (8.2%) and younger age (<1year) (6.9%) non-significantly increase the risk of MCIH.