Introduction to Hernia Surgery; when is it necessary, and how is it done?
A hernia occurs when an organ, fatty tissue, or intestine squeezes through an opening or a weak spot in the connective tissue or encompassing muscle. This occurs typically around the stomach wall. In some cases, a hernia can be noticeable as an external lump, especially when bearing down or straining.
What Causes a Hernia?
Hernias are caused by an amalgamation of the weakness of muscle or openings and constant pressure. This pressure then pushes a tissue or organ through the weak spot or opening, causing a bulge. In some cases, muscle weakness is present in the body since birth, and in some, it happens in the latter part of life. Anything that causes an increment in pressure with muscle weakness in the abdomen area can cause a hernia.
Other factors that can cause hernia include:
- Lifting heavy objects without abdominal muscle stability
- Constant constipation and diarrhoea
- Persistent sneezing and coughing
In addition to the causes mentioned above, poor nutrition, obesity, and smoking can also cause weakness in muscles which can cause a hernia,
How is Hernia Detected?
To diagnose a hernia, a physical test is done. In this test, your physician will check for a lump around the concerned area. Since coughing and standing make a hernia more prominent, you might be asked to strain, stand or cough.
What Is Hernia Surgery?
Hernia surgery is performed by a general surgeon in a hospital or a surgical centre. This surgery is common amongst adults and children, and it is usually done successfully in less than an hour or two.
In today’s time hernia repair options have seen new advancements and now they include new methods, materials and techniques that can make surgery less invasive, recovery faster, and recurrence less likely.
When Should You Get Your Hernia Surgery?
Sometimes, if the hernia is small and not that prominent, doesn’t cause any pain and does not grow with time, at that point, surgery may not be required right away. But it is critical to understand that most of the time, hernias do get more prominent. While it may not cause any problem then, it is likely that it could lead to serious complications if not treated in time.
One such complication is strangulation. This happens when the wall of the muscle squeezes the swollen tissue. Because of this, the blood supply cuts from that area causing the tissue to die.
Symptoms of Strangulation include:
- Severe pain
- A bulge that turns purple or red
Due to its potential to turn serious, it is recommended to undergo a hernia surgery to ensure that the hernia does not worsen and grow in size.
What are the Different Surgical Techniques for Hernia Repair?
Hernia repair is usually done through laparoscopic surgery or open surgery. The surgery technique is based upon various factors like the location and size of the hernia, the patient’s overall health and age, and many more such factors.
To help you understand Hernia surgeries, here are the two types explained.
- Open surgery
In this type of hernia repair surgery, the surgeon makes a cut near the hernia area and pushes the bulging tissue back to its original place in the body. The muscle that has turned weak is then stitched back together or patched with a synthetic material called mesh.
- Laparoscopic surgery
It is an advanced hernia repair surgery in which tiny cuts are made around the hernia site, which allows the insertion of long, thin surgical tools. One of the tools has a camera attached to it for the surgeon to have a clear image of the site on a TV screen. Advanced tools are then used to repair the hernia in the same way as with open surgery.
- Your surgeon will make three or four ¼” to ½” incisions in your abdomen area. One will be near your navel and the other will be lower down.
- A laparoscope which is a fiber-optic tube with a tiny camera is inserted via one of the openings which enables the surgeon to see the area clearly on a monitor.
- The surgeon then performs the hernia repair surgery using tiny surgical instruments which will be inserted through the cuts made while having a clear view in the monitor. The mesh is placed and secured in place with staples and sutures.
- Post surgery the instruments are taken out and the cuts made are closed with surgical tapes of stitches.
While open surgery is the conventional way to repair a hernia, laparoscopic surgery often allows patients to recover quickly while causing less pain. Also, laparoscopic surgery requires a patient to undergo general anaesthesia, whereas open hernia surgery can be done with general, regional, or local anaesthesia.
It is always better to get yourself checked at the earliest. If you have any symptoms, you mustn’t delay scheduling an appointment for your surgery, as a delay can cause more serious complications later. There are a lot of options available for most effective, painless, minimally-invasive hernia repair surgery.