A Systematic Review Shows High Variation in Terminology, Surgical Techniques, Preoperative Diagnostic Measures, and Geographic Differences in the Treatment of Athletic Pubalgia/Sports Hernia/Core Muscle Injury/Inguinal Disruption


      To perform a systematic review of reported terminologies, surgical techniques, preoperative diagnostic measures, and geographic differences in the treatment of core muscle injury (CMI)/athletic pubalgia/inguinal disruption.


      A systematic review was performed by searching PubMed, the Cochrane Library, and Embase to identify clinical studies or articles that described a surgical technique to treat CMI refractory to nonoperative treatment. The search phrase used was “core muscle injury” OR “sports hernia” OR “athletic pubalgia” OR “inguinal disruption.” The diagnostic terminology, country of publication, preoperative diagnostic measures, surgical technique, and subspecialty of the operating surgeons described in each article were extracted and reported.


      Thirty-one studies met the inclusion and exclusion criteria, including 3 surgical technique articles and 28 clinical articles (2 Level I evidence, 1 Level II, 4 Level III, and 21 Level IV). A total of 1,571 patients were included. The most common terminology used to describe the diagnosis was “athletic pubalgia,” followed by “sports hernia.” Plain radiographs and magnetic resonance imaging of the pelvis were the most common imaging modalities used in the preoperative evaluation of CMI/athletic pubalgia/inguinal disruption. Tenderness-to-palpation testing was the most common technique performed during physical examination, although the specific locations assessed with this technique varied substantially. The operating surgeons were general surgeons (16 articles), a combination of orthopaedic and general surgeons (7 articles), or orthopaedic surgeons (5 articles). The most common procedures performed were open or laparoscopic mesh repair, adductor tenotomy, primary tissue (hernia) repair, and rectus abdominis repair. The procedures performed differed on the basis of surgeon subspecialty, geographic location, and year of publication.


      A variety of diagnostic methods and surgical procedures have been used in the treatment of a CMI/athletic pubalgia/sports hernia/inguinal disruption. These procedures are performed by orthopaedic and/or general surgeons, with the procedures performed differing on the basis of surgeon subspecialty and geographic location.

      Level of Evidence

      Level V, systematic review of Level I to V studies.
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