Inguinal Hernia Surgery & Repair
Surgery is the only treatment and cure for an inguinal hernia. There is no other way to rid yourself of a hernia. For this reason, hernia repair is one of the most common surgical procedures in the United States. If the hernia is causing no pain or discomfort, there may be no need to operate. That determination, however, should be made after consultation with a trusted physician. There is no inherent danger in waiting to repair a hernia only when it becomes problematic.
If a hernia can be pushed back, or reduced, into the abdomen with gentle pressure, an adult may elect to wait until a convenient time to have it repaired. But surgery should not be unduly delayed in children or infants because of the increased risk of incarceration or strangulation in the hernia. If there is evidence of a hernia in a child or infant, consult with your physician right away.
Remember that hernias cannot be treated medicinally. Nor is it advised to wear a corset or truss to keep a hernia in place without first consulting your healthcare professional, as these devices may actually worsen the problem.
Surgery For An Inguinal Hernia
If surgery is deemed necessary, there are a couple of options. Open hernia repair surgery has been practiced for decades. The hernia is repaired through an incision in the groin. For open hernia repair surgery, a single long incision is made in the groin. If the hernia is bulging out of the abdominal wall , the bulge is pushed back into place. If the hernia is going down the inguinal canal (indirect), the hernia sac is either pushed back or tied off and removed.
The weak spot in the muscle wall, where the hernia bulges through, traditionally has been repaired by sewing the edges of healthy muscle tissue together (herniorrhaphy). This is appropriate for smaller hernias that have been present since birth (indirect hernias) and for healthy tissues, where it is possible to use stitches without adding stress on the tissue. But the surgical approach varies depending on the area of muscle wall to be repaired and the surgeon’s preference.
Mesh patches of synthetic material (Gore-Tex, Teflon, Dacron, Marlex, or Prolene) are now being widely used to repair hernias (hernioplasty). This is especially true for hernias that recur and for large hernias. Patches are sewn over the weakened area in the abdominal wall after the hernia is pushed back into place. The patch decreases the tension on the weakened abdominal wall, reducing the risk that a hernia will recur.
Laparoscopic Hernia Surgery
Laparoscopic hernia repair is a newer, and increasingly popular, method of hernia repair in adults. It is less intrusive and, therefore, usually less painful and conducive to quicker recovery. A very small incision is made in the abdomen, through which the surgeon inserts a lighted scope and the instruments used to repair the hernia.
In laparoscopic hernia surgery, a telescope attached to a camera is inserted through a small incision that is made under the patient’s belly button. Two other small cuts are made (each no larger than the diameter of pencil eraser) in the lower abdomen. The hernia defect is reinforced with a ‘mesh’ (synthetic material made from the same material that stitches are made from) and secured in position with stitches/staples/titanium tacks or tissue glue, depending on the preference of your individual surgeon.