Another common injury for is a hernia. In a nutshell, a hernia is a weakness or tear in the abdominal muscles. The inner lining of the abdomen pushes through the weakened area of the abdominal wall and forms a small, balloon-like sac. This can cause a noticeable bulge and pain under the skin. Hernias can affect anyone from young children to adult athletes, male or female. However, many people are unaware that there are multiple types of hernias and multiple procedures to alleviate your pain.
Often, hernias occur because a patient’s abdominal wall has a few natural areas of potential weakness that are present from birth. In other instances, an area of weakness may develop due to a variety of factors, such as surgery, injury, age or muscle strain. Most hernias that occur in adults result from strain on abdominal muscles that have been weakened by age or congenital factors.
What are the most common types of hernia?
Most types of hernia are classified by anatomical location. They include:
Inguinal: Inguinal hernias are considered the most common type of hernia, representing nearly two thirds of adult hernias. Inguinal hernias can produce pain that extends into the upper thigh or scrotum. When a man is born, his testicles must descend into an area known as the inguinal canal prior to birth. If the area doesn’t seal properly during the process, it can leave a natural defect called the internal inguinal ring. As a result, the contents of the abdomen, such as intestine, may protrude through the inguinal ring, creating abdominal pain and/or a bulge. Inguinal hernias are located in the lower abdomen near the pubic area. They can sometimes occur on both sides of the pubic area, and if they do, they are called bilateral inguinal hernias. As you might expect, this type of hernia occurs more commonly in men than women.
Ventral/Incisional: A ventral hernia, also known as an incisional hernia, can appear in your abdomen at the site of a previous surgery. It is possible for these hernias to appear several weeks, months or even years after surgery and can vary in size from small to very large and complex. If you are experiencing pain in an area where you have previously received an operation, it is possible that you have a ventral hernia, it’s important to consult a physician because the hernia may widen and become extremely difficult to repair.
Umbilical: Umbilical hernias can occur near the bellybutton, which often has a natural weakness from the blood vessels surrounding the umbilical cord. These hernias can occur in infants at after birth and may resolve themselves by three or four years of age. However, the area of weakness can also persist throughout life and can affect adult men, women or children at any time. In adults, umbilical hernias can progressively worsen over time. They are sometimes caused by the increased abdominal pressure that occurs with obesity, excessive coughing or even pregnancy.
Hiatal: Hiatal hernias are slightly different from other common hernias because they are the result of a weakness or opening in the diaphragm, the muscle separating the chest cavity from the abdominal cavity. These hernias can cause acid reflux from the stomach into the esophagus, which can cause heartburn, pain and erosion of the esophagus. Surgery to repair this type of hernia can be more complicated and may require a longer hospital stay.
What are the types of surgery available to me?
Surgeons use several hernia repair techniques. Eastern Surgical may suggest one or several techniques as options for treating your hernia, depending on your needs.
Depending on the size of your hernia, patients may need only local anesthesia and sedation for the procedure. However, larger, more complex hernias may require general anesthesia and a longer hospital stay.
At one point, this was the only procedure available to repair hernias. Using this method, your surgeon will make an incision in the abdomen over the location of the surgery. Then the surgeon will push protruding tissue back into the correct position within the abdominal cavity, and stitch the incision closed. This type of surgery is also called a tension repair because the stitches put tension on each side of the hernia in order to keep it closed. It can be a painful procedure and is rarely the best alternative.
Another alternative with open surgery, is a tension-free approach. In this method, mesh patches of synthetic material are used to repair hernias. Patches are sewn over the weakened area in the abdominal wall after the hernia is pushed back into place, rather than stitches on either side of the tear. The patch decreases the tension, reducing the risk that a hernia will recur.
Laparoscopic hernia repair is similar to other laparoscopic procedures. You will be given general anesthesia and your surgeon will make a small incision in your abdomen. The abdomen is then inflated with air so that the surgeon can see the abdominal organs using a small camera called a laparoscope. The instruments to repair the hernia are inserted through other small incisions in the lower abdomen. Mesh is then placed over the defect to reinforce the abdomen. This is considered another tension-free approach. A laparoscopic approach also results in fewer, and smaller, incisions and can be less painful than open surgery alternatives.
Eastern Surgical specializes in the most advanced, modernized form of hernia repair surgery. Robotic surgery involves sophisticated da Vinci Robotic technology which enables our surgeons to repair hernias using a a virtually painless and scarless system.
The da Vinci System is similar in concept to laparoscopic surgery but features a magnified 3D high-definition vision system and special wristed instruments that bend and rotate far greater than the human wrist. These features enable Eastern Surgical to operate with enhanced vision and precision. The da Vinci System features a magnified 3D high-definition vision.
Patients who choose da Vinci Single-Site Surgery experience virtually scarless results and lower recurrence rates than patients choosing alternative methods.
What should I expect following the operation?
For many, hernia repair is an outpatient procedure, or some patients may need to stay 1 or 2 days in the hospital.
Depending on your occupation, the time for full recovery can vary. If you have a very strenuous job or one that requires heavy lifting, it could be several weeks before you can get back to work. However, patients that work in less strenuous environments could be back to work in as little as three days. Eastern Surgical will provide you with a detailed recommendation on when to return to work and resume your normal daily activities.
We recommend moderate exercise, such as walking, to improve your circulation and speed the healing process. However, you will need to avoid putting a strain on your bodies, by avoiding heavy lifting and strenuous exercise, for six to eight weeks after the surgery.