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 severe 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 strain from heavy lifting, substantial weight gain, persistent coughing, or difficulty with bowel movements or urination. Eighty percent of all hernias are located near the groin. Hernias might also be found below the groin (femoral), through the navel (umbilical), and along a previous incision (incisional).
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
- Nausea and constipation
How is a laparoscopic hernia repair performed?
Laparoscopic surgery uses a thin, telescope-like instrument known as an endoscope that is inserted through a small incision at the umbilicus (belly button). Usually, this procedure is performed under general anesthesia. This requires an evaluation of your general state of health, including a history and physical exam, possibly including lab work and EKG.
You will not feel pain during this surgery. The endoscope is connected to a tiny video camera, smaller than 25 fils (a dime), 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. 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 stapled or sutured closed. Following the procedure, the small abdominal incisions are closed with a stitch or two, or with surgical tape. Within a few months, the incision are barely visible.
What are the benefits of laparoscopic hernia surgery?
- Three tiny scars rather than one large abdominal incision
- Short hospital stay (You might leave the day of surgery or the first day after surgery)
- Reduced post-operative pain
- Low hospital costs
- Faster return to work
- Shorter recovery time and earlier resumption of daily activities (a recovery time of days instead of weeks)
What can I expect after surgery?
It is important to follow your doctor’s instructions after surgery. Many people feel better in just a few days. However, you might need to take it easy for a week or two.
How safe is laparoscopic hernia repair?
This procedure is as safe as open surgery, in carefully selected cases, when performed by specialists in this field.