Lipoma of the cord, once considered rare and insignificant, has been cast in a new light by laparoscopic pre-peritoneal surgery, with diagnostic and therapeutic implications. This study aimed to determine the incidence, significance and association of spermatic cord lipomas to inguinal hernias. A retrospective review was performed for all hernia operations carried out between January 1999 and November 2002. The incidence of cord lipomas and their relation to inguinal hernias were evaluated. There were 123 repairs performed on 111 patients, 90 of which were laparoscopic via the pre-peritoneal approach, 29 were open and 4 converted from laparoscopic to open in the early part of the series. All but two cases were male (neither female had associated lipoma of the round ligament). Twenty-six lipomas of the cord were identified with an incidence of 21%. Sixteen were associated with hernia and only 10 were pure cord lipoma, an incidence of 8%. Thirteen repairs represented recurrent hernias, two of which had pure cord lipoma, one had an associated sac. Only two lipomas were suspected clinically prior to surgery. Lipoma of the cord is a poorly recognised entity that can be present with groin symptoms and clinical findings indistinguishable from inguinal hernia. Its incidence was poorly appreciated prior to the laparoscopic era.
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