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A hernia is a weakness in the abdominal wall that allows abdominal organs to bulge out. The bulge may be more noticeable when sneezing, coughing, lifting or other exertion.
The natural course of a hernia is for it to slowly enlarge and worsen over time. Doctors sometimes provide a truss or belt for hernias to support the abdominal wall and alleviate some of the symptoms. But this is not a cure.
The only way to “fix” a hernia is by surgery. We recommend that the majority of people with hernias have surgery to repair them, even if they do not have symptoms. This is because hernias have the potential for strangulation, a serious problem that occurs when part of your intestine gets trapped inside the hernia. If strangulation occurs, emergency surgery is necessary to prevent life-threatening complications, such as gangrene.
Once hernia surgery is performed, trusses (supportive braces worn around the abdomen or groin) are no longer needed, and people may resume normal activities.
Read a hypothetical conversation between a patient and doctor regarding surgical treatment for inguinal hernia.
The two basic types of hernia surgery are open and laparoscopic.
During the hernia repair, your surgeon will either push the affected tissue back into place or remove it, and then use a piece of mesh to cover the weakened area. The mesh is usually secured with sutures or staples. This technique helps to strengthen the repair and decreases the lifelong recurrence rate.
In some cases, mesh is not used and the healthy tissue is simply stitched back together with sutures after the hernia repair. This procedure is called herniorrhaphy.
We offer hernia repairs that may involve local anesthesia, light sedation, spinal anesthesia and general anesthesia. Depending on your individual case, your surgeon may choose to use regional anesthesia, a technique that uses local nerve blocks rather than general anesthesia. The benefits of regional anesthesia include less pain, fewer side effects, a faster recovery time and less time spent in the hospital.
We will help you understand your surgical options depending on your condition and the type of hernia you are experiencing.
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