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PURPOSE: Evidence regarding whether or not antibiotic prophylaxis is beneficial in preventing post-operative surgical site infection in adult inguinal hernia repair is conflicting. A recent Cochrane review based on 17 randomised trials did not reach a conclusion on this subject. This study aimed to describe the current practice and determine whether clinical equipoise is prevalent. METHODS: Surgeons in training were recruited to administer the Survey of Hernia Antibiotic Prophylaxis usE survey to consultant-level general surgeons in London and the south-east of England on their practices and beliefs regarding antibiotic prophylaxis in adult elective inguinal hernia repair. Local prophylaxis guidelines for the participating hospital sites were also determined. RESULTS: The study was conducted at 34 different sites and received completed surveys from 229 out of a possible 245 surgeons, a 93 % response rate. Overall, a large majority of hospital guidelines (22/28) and surgeons' personal beliefs (192/229, 84 %) supported the use of single-dose pre-operative intravenous antibiotic prophylaxis in inguinal hernia repair, although there was considerable variation in the regimens in use. The most widely used regimen was intravenous co-amoxiclav (1.2 g). Less than half of surgeons were adherent to their own hospital antibiotic guidelines for this procedure, although many incorrectly believed that they were following these. CONCLUSION: In the south-east of England, there is a strong majority of surgical opinion in favour of the use of antibiotic prophylaxis in this procedure. It is therefore likely to be extremely difficult to conduct further randomised studies in the UK to support or refute the effectiveness of prophylaxis in this commonly performed procedure.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





657 - 664


Adult, Anti-Bacterial Agents, Antibiotic Prophylaxis, Attitude of Health Personnel, Cross-Sectional Studies, Elective Surgical Procedures, England, Female, Guideline Adherence, Hernia, Inguinal, Herniorrhaphy, Hospitalization, Humans, Male, Surgical Wound Infection