Surgery Can Sometimes Be Avoided For Men With Hernias
Many men with an inguinal hernia, which is the most common type of hernia, occurring near the groin, often have very few or even no symptoms. For those wishing to avoid surgery, in these cases the men and their doctors sometimes delay hernia repair surgery until symptoms of pain or severe discomfort appear.
Little is known of the natural course of untreated inguinal hernia as there has been no critical testing of whether delaying surgery and of “watchful waiting” is actually a valid option. Surgical repair, while it is generally safe and effective, still carries the possibility of long-term risks of the hernia recurring, and of continued pain and discomfort.
Avoiding Or Delaying Hernia Surgery
By opting to delay or avoid surgery, men with little or no symptoms associated with their inguinal hernia can avoid the risks, the pain, the discomfort and the temporary immobility following surgery.
The Journal of the American Medical Association [January 18, 2006] reports that Dr. Fitzgibbons and colleagues from Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska studied 720 men with inguinal hernia over five years to December 2004. Half received surgical repair to their hernia and the others received the ‘wait and watch’ procedure.
The JAMA Hernia Research Results
- acute hernia problems rarely occurred with the men who had not had surgery;
- after two years there was no significant difference in the measured degree of pain and discomfort of the two groups;
- the small number of men in the ‘wait and see’ group who did have surgical repair if their hernia pain or discomfort increased were at no disadvantage following their surgery.
The researchers concluded that a strategy of watchful waiting is a safe and acceptable option for men with inguinal hernia who have minimal or no symptoms.