Sports hernia is a type of groin hernia that is typically seen in athletes and physically active individuals. With minimally invasive surgery, athletes are able to undergo repair with minimal discomfort and resume unrestricted physical activities within a few days. Dr. Zare has been performing laparoscopic or minimally invasive inguinal hernia repair for treatment of sports hernia for nearly a decade. His patients have included professional and amateur athletes including members of San Jose Earthquakes, and San Jose State University soccer and baseball teams.
Sports hernia occurs as a result of a tear in one of the layers of muscle or fascia in the groin. Patients experience a dull ache or sharp burning pain in the groin, especially with physical activities. Pain persists even after a period of rest and over-the-counter medications. Physicians who are not familiar with sports hernias may miss diagnosing this entity. A noticeable bulge, which is seen in the more common inguinal hernia variety, is typically absent with sports hernias. Instead, correlation between the clinical history and tenderness on physical exam helps the physician arrive at a diagnosis of sports hernia.
Modern minimally invasive/laparoscopic repair of sports hernia has many short and long-term advantages over the traditional open repair. Since this approach does not require a large incision in the groin, additional trauma and injury from open surgery is avoided. As a result, not only patients experience significantly reduced pain and discomfort after surgery, they can avoid debilitating long-term complications associated with open surgery such as nerve entrapment and dense scarring. Although extremely rare in experienced hands, these complications of open hernia surgery can significantly impact a patient's quality of life. Additionally, since laparoscopic surgery is performed by securely placing a mesh behind (as opposed to superficial to) the injured layer of muscle, repair is much more robust when compared to open repair and can withstand super-physiologic pressures early on. With the open repair, a mesh is placed superficial to the torn layer and the growth and incorporation by the native tissue is countered by physiologic forces in the early phase of healing. Alternatively, open repair may be performed using an older method which does not require mesh. This results in tissue 'tension' - long considered to be the cause for significant pain early on after hernia surgery, and more importantly the cause for recurrence of hernia after many years. 'Tension-free' repair of inguinal hernia using prosthetic mesh has been the accepted standard of care worldwide since the mid 1980's.
Because minimally invasive repair of inguinal or sports hernia requires special training and advanced laparoscopic skills, it is not offered by many surgeons. Prospective randomized controlled trials have clearly shown that surgeon experience (more than 250 laparoscopic inguinal hernia operations) is an important factor in determining success with laparoscopic inguinal hernia repair. Dr. Zaré has been performing the modern method of laparoscopic inguinal hernia repair called totally extra-peritoneal (TEP) repair since 2002. With over 2,000 repairs performed successfully to date, we have one of the largest experiences of laparoscopic inguinal hernia repair in San Jose and the San Francisco Bay area and our patients have been very satisfied with their outcomes.
All patients are discharged home within an hour of surgery and return to baseline activities and work within a few days. They are allowed unrestricted resumption of all sports and physical activities within 10 days of surgery.