What is a hernia?
A hernia occurs when the inside layers of the abdominal wall weaken then bulge or tear.
The inner lining of the abdomen pushes through the weakened area to form a balloon-like sac. This, in turn, can cause a loop of intestine or abdominal tissue to slip into the sac, causing pain and other potentially serious health problems.
Men and women of all ages can have hernias. Hernias usually occur either because of a natural weakness in the abdominal wall or from excessive strain on the abdominal wall, such as the strain from heavy lifting, substantial weight gain, persistent coughing, or difficulty with bowel movements or urination.
There are three primary types of hernias:
- Incisional or ventral: appears at the site of the incision of a previous abdominal operation. This can happen soon after the operation or many years later.
- Inguinal: develops when a portion of an internal organ such as the intestine, along with fluid, bulges through a weakened area in the muscle wall of the lower abdomen.
- Umbilical: occurs around the umbilicus and is usually present at birth, though it may not become a problem until adulthood.
What are the symptoms of hernias?
- A noticeable protrusion in the groin area or in the abdomen
- Feeling pain while lifting
- A dull aching sensation
- A vague feeling of fullness
How can a hernia be repaired?
Hernias usually need to be surgically repaired to prevent intestinal damage and further complications. The surgery takes about an hour and is usually performed on an outpatient basis (which means the patient can go home the same day of the procedure). This surgery may be performed by an open repair (small incision over the herniated area) or by laparoscopic surgery (minimally invasive). Your surgeon will determine the best method of repair for your individual situation.
- Open Repair Surgery :
- A small incision or cut is made in the skin.
- The hernia “sac” containing the bulging intestine is identified.
- The surgeon pushes the intestine inside the hernia sac back into its proper position behind the muscle wall.
- The muscle wall is reinforced with stitches or synthetic mesh to complete the repair.
- After the surgery, most patients will be able to go home a few hours after surgery. If needed, a 23-hour extended recovery area is available. Typically, most patients feel fine within a few days after the surgery and resume normal eating habits and activities. Strenuous activity and exercise are restricted for 4 to 6 weeks after surgery.
- Laparoscopic surgery uses a thin, telescope-like instrument (known as an endoscope) that is inserted through a small incision at the umbilicus (belly button).
- The peritoneum (the inner lining of your abdomen) is cut to expose the weakness in the abdominal wall. A mesh patch is attached to secure the weak area under the peritoneum. The peritoneum is then closed with staples or sutures.
- Following the procedure, the small abdominal incisions are closed with a stitch or two or with surgical tape. Within a few months, the incision is barely visible.
- Benefits of laparoscopic hernia surgery
- Tiny scars rather than one larger incision
- Reduced postoperative pain