Inguinal hernia in hemodialysis versus peritoneal dialysis patients: a case-control study
© The Author(s) 2016
Received: 25 December 2015
Accepted: 22 March 2016
Published: 15 June 2016
Inguinal hernia is common in dialysis patients, especially peritoneal dialysis (PD) patients; however, no previous reports have assessed the incidence, type, treatments, and risk factors of inguinal hernia in hemodialysis (HD) patients. We retrospectively evaluated the differences in these factors between HD and PD patients.
A total of 2287 HD and 410 PD patients treated between March 2006 and December 2013 were enrolled. The incidence, type (indirect, direct, or combined), and hernioplasty of inguinal hernia as well as demographic characteristics of HD and PD patients were compared.
The incidence of inguinal hernia was lower in HD (0.7 %) than in PD patients (5.9 %) (P < 0.001), and these incidences were higher among men (P = 0.007 and P < 0.001, respectively). Of the 16 HD and 24 PD patients with inguinal hernia, 14 and 21 (both 88 %) underwent hernioplasty. Among them, PD patients demonstrated a higher proportion of indirect hernia (91 %) than HD (47 %) patients (P = 0.003). No recurrence was observed in either group. In a multivariate logistic regression model, PD and male sex were risk factors for inguinal hernia (both P < 0.001).
In this study, indirect inguinal hernia was more frequent in PD patients than in HD patients. Male sex and PD are risk factors for inguinal hernia in dialysis patients. Tension-free hernioplasty for inguinal hernia was effective in both HD and PD patients. Our findings can help inform clinicians when selecting the dialysis modality (HD or PD) prior to the initiation of dialysis therapy and guide clinical management practices for inguinal hernias in dialysis patients.
Inguinal hernia, which accounts for 75 % of abdominal wall hernias , is common in dialysis patients as well as healthy individuals and is caused by abdominal wall fragility  and increased intra-abdominal pressure . Aging, male sex, chronic cough , prolonged peritoneal dialysis (PD) vintage , and polycystic kidney disease  have been reported as risk factors of abdominal wall hernia formation. By contrast, being overweight has been reported to reduce the risk of inguinal hernia [4, 7, 8]. However, to the best of our knowledge, no previous reports have focused on the incidence, type (direct, indirect, or combined), and risk factors of inguinal hernia in hemodialysis (HD) patients.
In this study, we compared the incidence, type, surgical treatments, and risk factors of inguinal hernia between HD and PD patients.
This study was a retrospective analysis of records from Tsuchiya General Hospital collected between March 2006 and December 2013. The management and surgical techniques for dialysis patients with inguinal hernia were established in March 2006. The study was approved by the Tsuchiya General Hospital Institutional Review Board for Human Investigation and performed according to the principles of the Declaration of Helsinki. Written informed consent for the procedure was obtained from all patients, and patient anonymity was strictly maintained. We identified HD and PD patients who developed inguinal hernia. Patients with a history of abdominal hernia prior to HD or PD therapy were excluded. Eligible patients were divided into 4 groups, excluding umbilical hernia patients: HD hernia, PD hernia, HD no-hernia, and PD no-hernia. Clinical manifestations were recorded for each patient after a medical chart review. Data were collected at the initiation of HD or PD therapy or the onset of hernia and included demographic characteristics such as age, sex, body mass index (BMI), primary renal disease, history of asthma, and previous abdominal surgery as well as whether hernia was unilateral or bilateral. Data concerning daily peritoneal dialysate volume and the proportion of automated PD (APD) during the study period were also collected.
Methods and techniques for hernioplasty
A single surgeon with 15 years of experience performed all hernioplasties. Under general anesthesia, a Kugel repair (tension-free hernioplasty) was performed using a Kugel or Polysoft Hernia Patch (polypropylene mesh) (Davol, Cranston, RI, USA) . The type of inguinal hernia (direct, indirect, or combined) was identified at hernioplasty. During hernioplasty, great care was taken not to open the peritoneum to avoid dialysate leakage.
We reviewed post-procedural complications including wound bleeding, infection, hernia recurrence, and postoperative 90-day survival in HD and PD patients and reviewed peritonitis, dialysate leakage, PD dysfunction, PD withdrawal, and PD vintage after hernioplasty in PD patients.
Data were analyzed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences version 14 software (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA) and expressed as the number of participants and percentage of the study population or as means and ranges. To analyze factors associated with the development of hernias, Student’s t test and chi-square test were used for continuous and categorical variables, respectively. Logistic regression analyses were performed to identify independent risk factors for the development of hernia. Values of P < 0.05 were considered statistically significant.
Patient characteristics and incidence of inguinal hernia by dialysis status
HD (N = 2287)
PD (N = 410)
Age at dialysis initiation, years (range)
Male, N (%)
Primary renal disease
Diabetes mellitus, N (%)
Chronic glomerulonephritis, N (%)
Nephrosclerosis, N (%)
Polycystic kidney disease, N (%)
IgA nephropathy, N (%)
Others, N (%)
Unknown, N (%)
Patients with incident inguinal hernia, N (%)
Patient characteristics with incident inguinal hernia by dialysis status
HD (N = 16)
PD (N = 24)
Male, N (%)
P value vs. no-hernia male (%)
Age at hernia onset, years (range)
Unilateral/bilateral hernia, N
Duration from dialysis initiation to hernia onset, months (range)
Body mass index, kg/m2 (range)
P value (dialysis initiation vs. hernia onset)
The rates of asthma in both the HD and PD hernia groups (13 % (N = 2; P = 0.9) and 13 % (N = 3; P = 0.5)) were similar to those in the no-hernia groups (11 % (N = 252) and 19 % (N = 71), respectively). The proportion of previous surgery in the PD hernia group (30 % (N = 7)) was similar to that in the PD no-hernia group (25 % (N = 93; P = 0.46)), while the proportion of previous abdominal surgery in the HD hernia group (31 % (N = 5)) was significantly higher than that in the HD no-hernia group (12 % (N = 265; P = 0.04)).
In the PD patients, the mean daily dialysate volume was 5.3 (range, 1.0–15.5) L/day; 16 % of patients underwent APD. The mean daily dialysate volumes in the PD hernia and PD no-hernia groups were 4.8 (range, 3.0–7.5) and 5.4 (1.0–15.5) L/day, respectively (P = 0.12). The rates of APD before the onset of hernias in the PD hernia and PD no-hernia groups were 9 and 17 %, respectively (P = 0.25).
Risk factors for inguinal hernia development in dialysis patients
95 % CI
Age at dialysis initiation
Previous abdominal surgery
Hernioplasty for dialysis patients with inguinal hernia and clinical outcomes
HD (N = 16)
PD (N = 24)
Patients with hernioplasty, N (%)
Number of inguinal hernia, N
Hernia type, N (%)
Duration from hernia onset to hernioplasty, months (range)
90-day survival rate, %
No recurrence was observed in either the HD or PD groups. In 2 patients, PD therapy was discontinued due to complications within 90 days of hernioplasty: 1 case of peritonitis and 1 of lower abdominal discomfort. In 1 patient, PD therapy was withdrawn due to peritonitis prior to hernioplasty. The mean PD vintage after hernioplasty was 28 (range, 1–62) months. The overall postoperative 90-day survival rate was 100 % in both groups (Table 4).
PD patients tend to have a higher incidence of inguinal hernias compared with healthy individuals. The reported incidence of abdominal wall hernias ranges from 2.5 to 25 % in PD patients [10, 11]. Therefore, the incidence of inguinal hernia in PD patients in our study was consistent with previous reports. By contrast, no previous reports have investigated the incidence of inguinal hernia in HD patients. Moreover, to the best of our knowledge, no previous studies have investigated the incidence of inguinal hernia in healthy Japanese adults, although the hernia is common in healthy individuals. On the other hand, a previous study reported that the incidences of groin hernias in Nepalese (South Asian) men and women were 1.5 and 0.6 %, respectively . In our study, the incidence in HD patients (0.7 %) is similar to that in healthy Western adults and Nepalese, in whom the reported incidence is 1–2 % [12–14].
Inguinal hernias are classified anatomically as indirect or direct. In the analysis of the Swedish Hernia Register, indirect inguinal hernia accounted for 54 % of groin hernias repaired in men . In our study, there was a higher proportion of indirect hernia in the PD (91 %) than in the HD (47 %) patients treated with hernioplasty. Indirect inguinal hernias in adults are almost always congenital. A shutter mechanism, which is postulated to close the internal inguinal ring to a slit, may be dysfunctional in patients with a patent processus vaginalis [16, 17]. Our findings suggest that indirect inguinal hernia may not be clinically apparent due to the presence of a small internal ring (i.e., slit) before the initiation of PD therapy and may become clinically detectable as a result of internal ring expansion due to the increase in intra-abdominal pressure from peritoneal dialysate. On the other hand, there is no slit within Hesselbach’s triangle, where a direct hernia can occur. Therefore, direct inguinal hernia may be susceptible to intra-abdominal pressure from peritoneal dialysate.
In a previous report, low body weight was associated with abdominal hernia formation in PD patients . In another report, BMI was not a risk factor for hernia development in PD patients . Among adults in the USA, overweight and obesity were associated with a lower incidence of inguinal hernia . No previous reports have focused on risk factors of inguinal hernia in HD patients. In our study, the BMIs of HD patients were lower than those of PD patients at both dialysis initiation and hernia onset, and decreased BMI (i.e., body weight) may be a risk factor for inguinal hernia formation only in HD patients. Our findings in HD patients are similar to those previously reported in healthy individuals . In HD patients, lean or malnourished patients, who have less abdominal muscle and loose connective tissues around the inguinal region, may be associated with the development of inguinal hernia. On the other hand, in PD patients, factors associated with PD may counteract other factors including BMI for the development of inguinal hernia.
Strong associations of abdominal hernias with aging, male sex, chronic cough , polycystic kidney disease , and PD vintage  have been reported. In our study, PD and male sex were risk factors for the development of inguinal hernia. By contrast, aging, asthma, polycystic kidney disease, and previous abdominal surgery were not independent risk factors for the development of inguinal hernia. The reasons for these findings may include aging of the patients undergoing dialysis or the small sample size of patients with PD in our study.
Tension-free hernioplasty with mesh is preferred for the treatment of inguinal hernia because of its association with low hernia recurrence rates [20, 21] and has also been recommended for PD patients . In our study, tension-free hernioplasty was performed in both HD and PD patients with inguinal hernia, and no recurrence was observed. Our findings suggest that tension-free hernioplasty is an effective treatment for inguinal hernia in both HD and PD patients. Although the meshes used for hernioplasty were not associated with peritonitis [23, 24], great care should be taken not to open the peritoneum during hernioplasty to avoid peritonitis, since the meshes are a foreign body.
This study has several limitations. First, it was based on a group of patients treated at a single center. Second, the sample size was small. However, our study is valuable in that no previous reports have assessed the incidences, type, surgical treatment, and risk factors of inguinal hernias in both HD and PD patients.
Indirect inguinal hernia was more frequent in PD patients compared with HD patients. Male sex and PD were risk factors of inguinal hernia in dialysis patients. Tension-free hernioplasty for inguinal hernia was effective in both HD and PD patients. Our findings can help inform clinicians when selecting the dialysis modality (HD or PD) prior to the initiation of dialysis therapy and guide clinical management practices for inguinal hernias in dialysis patients.
The authors are very grateful to the dialysis staff who provided data in Tsuchiya General Hospital.
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