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Hernia repair

What is a hernia?

What is a hernia?
What is a hernia?

Hernia occurs when an internal organ (such as a small part of the bowel) is removed from the cavity where it normally has its place.

The common cause of each hernia is the pressure and the opening or weakness of muscle or fascia (a strong connective tissue that covers the muscle tissue). The pressure extrudes the organ or tissue through the opening or weak point. Most hernias do not cause immediate life threat, but they don’t heal without treatment. In some cases, surgery is essential to prevent complications.

What types of hernias exist?

There are many types of hernia, but in most cases the inguina is the affected area.

Inguinal hernia

Inguinal hernia is the most common type of hernia in adults. It is more common in men, but it may also occur in women.

In case of inguinal hernia, the abdominal content, most commonly the small bowel (small intestine) and the omentum (the apron that covers the abdominal cavity) can protrude through the hernia, creating a lump or visible bulge. Hernia may cause discomfort and pain.

Hernia types
Hernia types

Femoral hernia

Femoral hernia is relatively rare (3% of all hernias). While femoral hernia can occur in both man and woman, this is most likely to occur in women because of the wider hipbone. Femoral hernias are more common in adults than in children. Those that do occur in children are more likely to be associated with a connective tissue disorder or with conditions that increase intra-abdominal pressure. Once these type of hernias are diagnosed, early treatment is highly recommended before complications occur.

Umbilical hernia

Umbilical hernia occurs in or around the belly-button, or umbilicus.  The belly button is an inherently weaker area of the abdominal wall. Eventually, the fascial layer of the abdominal wall can be worn away, resulting in a hole (a hernia) in the abdominal wall.

Epigastric hernia

An epigastric hernia occurs when a weakness in the abdominal muscle allows the tissues of the abdomen to protrude through the muscle. An epigastric hernia is similar to an umbilical hernia, except the umbilical hernia forms around the belly button and the epigastric hernia can be found between the belly button and the chest.

What are the symptoms of hernia?

A hernia occurs when an organ or fatty tissue squeezes through a weak spot in a surrounding muscle or connective tissue called fascia. In most cases hernia can be diagnosed on the basis of signs and symptoms. Occasionally medical imaging technics are used to confirm the diagnosis or rule out other possible causes.

Risk factors of the development of a hernia include: smoking, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, obesity, pregnancy, peritoneal dialysis, collagen vascular disease, and previous open appendectomy, among others. Hernia is partly genetic and occurs more often in certain families.

When is a hernia surgery needed?

If your hernia is growing larger or causing pain, your physician may decide that surgery is the best solution. Hernia repair is used to prevent complications like obstruction of the bowel or strangulation of the tissue. Most abdominal hernias can be surgically repaired. In case of laparoscopic hernia surgery, recovery time is shorter and the patient can return to normal activities sooner.

How does the procedure work?

There are various forms of treatment – open hernia repair surgery using a mesh to repair the weakness, and keyhole surgery which may enable you to return to normal activities sooner.

Open surgery requires a longer recovery process and you may be unable to move around normally for up to six weeks.

Laparoscopic surgery uses a tiny camera and miniaturized surgical equipment to repair the hernia using only a few small incisions. Laparoscopic surgery is less damaging to the surrounding tissue.

Laparoscopic hernia repair
Laparoscopic hernia repair

What are the benefits and risks of the surgery?

The surgeon has several goals, such as repairing the hernia with a minimum of operative and post-operative pain and discomfort, and providing an effective treatment. Hernia surgery techniques have developed a lot in the last few years. Nowdays, most people who had hernia repair surgery are able to return to normal activities a few weeks, sometimes a few days after surgery.

Surgical complications include pain that lasts more than three months, surgical site infections, nerve and blood vessel injuries, and hernia recurrence.

Am I eligible for hernia repair?

It’s important to recognize the early signs of a hernia. An untreated hernia will not go away on its own and it can also put too much pressure on nearby tissues, which can cause swelling and pain in the surrounding area.

If the trapped section of your intestines doesn’t get enough blood flow, strangulation occurs. This can cause the intestinal tissue to become infected or die. A strangulated hernia is life-threatening and requires immediate medical care.

How should I prepare for the surgery?

It is important to provide your medical information to our team, including any nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAID) that you currently take, even aspirin or ibuprofen.

Before surgery, make sure to follow any pre-appointment restrictions set by your surgeon, such as avoiding nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for a week before surgery and not eating the day of surgery. Try to get a good night’s sleep, and if your procedure requires a hospital stay, make sure to bring anything you will need during that time.

What shall I do after hernia repair?

When you return home after surgery, follow your surgeon’s instructions regarding when you can return to your normal daily activities. The amount of pain and/or discomfort you experience depends on the location of the hernia, the type of repair, and your personal pain tolerance level. Generally, walking and climbing stairs may be difficult for a day or two.

Why is regular check-up important after hernia repair?

A post-operative visit is required with a doctor in 7-10 days following the surgery. At this time, all stitches will be removed and your progress in healing will be checked.