Background. The EU Hernia Trialists Collaboration was established to provide reliable evaluation of newer methods of groin hernia repair. It involved 70 investigators in 20 countries. Materials and methods. Twenty eligible trials (5016 participants) of open mesh vs. non-mesh groin hernia repair were identified. Meta-analysis was performed using raw individual patient data where possible. Results. Fewer hernia recurrences were reported after mesh repair. There were no clear differences between mesh and non-mesh groups in complications. Overall, those in the mesh groups had a shorter hospital stay, quicker return to usual activities and less frequent persisting pain, but individual trial results varied. Conclusions. The review provides strong evidence that open mesh repair is associated with a reduction in the risk of recurrence of between 50% and 75%. There is also some evidence of quicker recovery and of lower rates of persisting pain following open mesh repair.
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