What is a Hernia?
A hernia occurs when the inside layers of the abdominal wall weaken – and 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.
What causes a hernia?
Hernias are common in men and women of all ages. 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 & urination.
What are the symptoms?
Not all hernias cause symptoms and require treatment. However, if you have a hernia, you may experience any of the following symptoms:
- A noticeable protrusion in the groin area or abdomen
- Feeling pain while lifting
- A dull aching sensation
- A vague feeling of fullness
When should I seek treatment?
If a hernia is causing you pain or discomfort, you should talk to your doctor. Frequently, hernias are small when they begin, but often enlarge. Treatment is generally recommended to avoid emergency surgery or other health problems.
Benefits of Laparoscopic Hernia Repair?
Today’s hernia surgeries are frequently performed on an outpatient basis and patients often recuperate within a few days. The surgery may be done either as an open repair or laparoscopically.
Laparoscopic repair – This type of minimally invasive surgery is usually done under general anesthesia and uses a thin, telescope-like instrument known as a laparoscope that is inserted through three tiny incisions in the abdomen. It is connected to a tiny video camera, which projects an “inside view” of the patient’s body onto television screens in the operating room. The abdomen is inflated with a harmless gas (carbon dioxide) to allow your doctor to view your internal structures. A mesh patch is attached inside to reinforce the weak area in the abdominal wall.
Following the procedure, the small abdominal incisions are closed with a stitch or two, or with surgical tape. Within a few months, the incisions are barely visible. Patients often experience less pain and recuperate and return to normal activity sooner. The laparoscopic procedure is as safe and effective as the open procedure when performed by specially trained experts, such as Drs Atwa and Paracha.
What are the different types of hernias?
The most common types of hernias include:
- Inguinal hernia – A type of hernia that develops in the groin.
- Ventral hernia – A type of hernia in the front of the abdominal wall. An umbilical hernia is one common type.
- Incisional hernia – A type of hernia that develops at the site of an incision from a previous surgery. It may develop shortly after the surgery or years later.
- Hiatal (or hiatus) hernia – A type of hernia that develops where the esophagus (swallowing tube) comes through the diaphragm (breathing muscle).
What are the treatment options?
There is no acceptable nonsurgical medical treatment for a hernia. The use of a truss (hernia belt) can help keep the hernia from bulging, but eventually will fail. The truss also causes the formation of scar tissue around the hernia making the repair more difficult. If you suspect you have a hernia, consult with your physician or surgeon promptly. Delayed hernia repair can result in intestinal incarceration (intestine is trapped inside the hernia sac) or strangulation (intestine is trapped and develops gangrene). The latter is a surgical emergency.
The hernia will not go away without treatment; it will only get bigger. The bigger the defect the bigger the operation required to fix it.
Under certain circumstances the hernia may be watched and followed closely by a physician. These situations are unique to those individuals who are at high operative risks (i.e. those with severe heart or lung disease, or bleeding problems). Of course, even in the high risk person, if the symptoms become severe or if strangulation occurs, then an operation must be performed.
Alternatives to laparoscopic hernia repair?
Open repair – An open repair is performed under a local anesthetic and sedation or general anesthetic. The surgeon performs the procedure through an incision, pushing the hernia contents into its proper position behind the muscle wall. The muscle wall is then reinforced with stitches or synthetic mesh to complete the repair.
Most patients go home a few hours after surgery. If needed, a 23-hour extended recovery area is available. Typically, most patients feel okay within a few days after the surgery and resume normal daily activities within one to two weeks. Strenuous activity and exercise are restricted for four to six weeks after surgery.
Which type of surgery is right for me?
The surgeons at Long Island Laparoscopic Doctorssm can help determine what type of surgery is best for your specific type of hernia. The decision depends on many factors including the type of hernia, whether or not you have had previous surgeries, and if you are a candidate for general anesthetic, nerve blocks or local anesthesia. Our surgeons will determine the best surgical procedure for you, helping to avoid recurrent hernias and complications.
Why Should I come to Long Island Laparoscopic Doctors?
Drs. Atwa and Paracha perform several hundred hernia repairs each year, from the routine to the most complex. Our procedures are designed so that patients receive individualized care, undergoing comprehensive evaluation with board-certified surgeon to determine the best surgical procedure for the specific type of hernias, which helps avoid recurrent hernia and complications.
Video of Laparoscopic Hiatal Hernia Surgery
Video of Laparoscopic Inguinal Hernia Surgery
Listen to Hernia Patient Discuss Her Surgery