What is a Hernia?
- A hernia is a gap or space in the strong tissue that holds muscles in place. A hernia occurs when the inner layers of the abdominal muscle have weakened, resulting in a bulge or tear. The inner lining of the abdomen pushes through the weakened area of the abdominal wall to form a small balloon like sac. This can allow a loop of intestine or abdominal tissue to push into the sac. The hernia can cause discomfort, severe pain, or other potentially serious problems that could require emergency surgery.
- Both men and women can get a hernia.
- You may be born with a hernia (congenital) or develop one over time.
- A hernia does not get better over time, nor will it go away by itself. There are no exercises or physical therapy regimen that can make a hernia go away.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE AN INGUINAL HERNIA?
- The common areas where hernias occur are in the groin (inguinal), belly button (umbilical), and the site of a previous operation (incisional).
- It is usually easy to recognize a hernia. You may notice a bulge under the skin. You may feel pain or discomfort when you lift heavy objects, cough, strain during urination or bowel movements, or during prolonged standing or sitting.
- The pain may be sharp and immediate or a dull ache that gets worse toward the end of the day.
WHAT CAUSES AN INGUINAL HERNIA?
The wall of the abdomen has natural areas of potential weakness. Hernias can develop at these or other areas due to heavy strain on the abdominal wall, aging, injury, an old incision or a weakness present from birth. Anyone can develop a hernia at any age. In adults, a natural weakness or strain from heavy lifting, persistent coughing, difficulty with bowel movements or urination can cause the abdominal wall to weaken or separate.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF LAPAROSCOPIC INGUINAL HERNIA REPAIR?
Laparoscopic Hernia Repair is a technique to fix tears in the abdominal wall (muscle) using small incisions, telescopes and a patch (mesh). Laparoscopic repair offers a shorter return to work and normal activity for most patients.
HOW IS THE PROCEDURE PERFORMED?
There are few options available for a patient who has a hernia.
- Surgical procedures are done in one of two fashions:
- The open approach is done from the outside through a three to four inch incision in the groin or the area of the hernia. The incision will extend through the skin, subcutaneous fat, and allow the surgeon to get to the level of the defect. The surgeon may choose to use a small piece of surgical mesh to repair the defect or hole.
- The laparoscopic hernia repair is done with the use of a laparoscope (a tiny telescope) connected to a special camera is inserted through a cannula, a small hollow tube, allowing the surgeon to view the hernia and surrounding tissue on a video screen.
What Complications can occur?
- Any operation may be associated with complications. The primary complications of any operation are bleeding and infection, which are uncommon with laparoscopic hernia repair.
- There is an extremely low risk of injury to the urinary bladder, the intestines, blood vessels, nerves or the sperm tube going to the testicle.
- Swelling of the scrotum is not uncommon with open and laparoscopic repair. This will gradually resolve on its own in the vast majority of patients.
- Any time a hernia is repaired it can come back. This long-term recurrence rate is low in patients who undergo laparoscopic repair by an experienced surgeon.
When to call Your Doctor
Be sure to call your physician or surgeon if you develop any of the following:
- Persistent fever over 101 degrees F (39 C)
- Increasing abdominal or groin swelling
- Pain that is not relieved by your medications
- Persistent nausea or vomiting
- Inability to urinate
- Persistent cough or shortness of breath
- Foul smelling drainage (pus) from any incision
- Redness surrounding any of your incisions that is worsening or getting bigger
- You are unable to eat or drink liquids
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