Unnecessary use of radiology studies in the diagnosis of inguinal hernias: a retrospective cohort study

Natalie Liu, Tyler M. Prout, Yiwei Xu, Jeremy Smith, Luke M. Funk, Jacob A. Greenberg, Amber L. Shada, Anne O. Lidor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: The diagnosis of inguinal hernias is predominantly based on physical exam, although imaging may be used in select cases. The objective of this study was to determine the frequency of unnecessary imaging used in the diagnosis of inguinal hernias. Methods: Patients who underwent elective inguinal hernia repair at a large academic health system in the U.S. from 2010 to 2017 were included. Within this cohort, we identified patients who received imaging 6 months prior to surgery. Through chart review of physical exam findings and imaging indications, we categorized patients into four imaging categories: unrelated, necessary, unnecessary, and borderline. Multivariable logistic regression analysis was used to identify factors associated with receipt of unnecessary imaging. Results: Of 2162 patients who underwent inguinal hernia surgery, 249 patients had related imaging studies 6 months prior to surgery. 47.0% of patients received unnecessary imaging. 66.9% and 33.1% of unnecessary studies were ultrasounds and CT scans, respectively. 24.5% of patients had necessary studies, while 28.5% had studies with borderline indications. On multivariable analysis, having a BMI between 25.0 and 29.9 kg/m2 was associated with receipt of unnecessary studies. Primary care providers and ED physicians were more likely to order unnecessary imaging. Conclusions: Nearly 50% of all patients who receive any related imaging prior to surgery had potentially unnecessary diagnostic radiology studies. This not only exposes patients to avoidable risks, but also places a significant economic burden on patients and our already-strained health system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4444-4451
Number of pages8
JournalSurgical endoscopy
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • General surgery
  • Health services research
  • Hernia
  • Outcome assessment
  • Radiology
  • inguinal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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