Inguinal Hernia Repair
An inguinal hernia occurs when tissues protrude through an area of weakness or a defect in your lower abdominal wall. It’s usually in or near the groin area. Anyone can get an inguinal hernia, but it’s more common in men than women.
During inguinal hernia repair, your doctor pushes back the protruding tissues into the abdomen while stitching and reinforcing the section of the abdominal wall having the defect. This procedure is also called inguinal herniorrhaphy and open hernia repair.
Surgery isn’t always required, but hernias usually don’t improve without it. In certain cases, an untreated hernia can become life-threatening. While there are some side effects and risks associated with the surgical procedure, most people have positive results.
What causes an inguinal hernia?
The cause of inguinal hernias isn’t always known, but they could be as a result of weak spots in the abdominal wall. Weaknesses can be due to defects present at birth or formed later in life. Some risk factors for inguinal hernia include:
- Fluid or pressure in the abdomen
- Heavy lifting like weightlifting
- Repetitive straining during urination or bowel movements
- Chronic cough
Both adults and children can get inguinal hernias. Men are more likely to develop an inguinal hernia. People with a history of hernias are at bigger risk of having another hernia as well. The second hernia normally occurs on the opposite side.
Symptoms of an inguinal hernia
The symptoms of an inguinal hernia include a bulge in the groin area and pain, pressure or aching at the bulge particularly when lifting, bending, or coughing. These symptoms usually subside during rest. Men may also have swelling around the testicles.
You can sometimes gently push back the protruding tissue of a hernia when you lie on your back. You may not notice any symptoms if your inguinal hernia is small.
Do I need an inguinal hernia repair?
Immediate surgery isn’t always suggested when a hernia isn’t causing a problem. However, it’s vital to note that most hernias won’t resolve without treatment. They may also become larger and more uncomfortable over time.
Most people find the bulge from a hernia to be painless, although coughing, lifting and bending might cause pain and discomfort. Your doctor may recommend surgery if:
- Your hernia gets bigger
- Pain develops or increases
- You have trouble performing daily activities
A hernia can become very dangerous if your intestines become twisted or stuck. If this occurs, you may have:
- Increased heart rate
- Darkening of the bulge
- Inability to push your hernia back into the abdomen when you previously could.
If you have any of these symptoms/ signs, contact your doctor immediately. This is a life-threatening condition that needs emergency surgery.
Risks associated with inguinal hernia repair
The risks involved in any surgery include:
- Breathing difficulties
- Allergic reactions to anesthesia and other medications
Some of the risks specific to inguinal hernia repair include:
- The hernia may eventually come back.
- You may experience prolonged pain at the site.
- There could be damage to blood vessels. In men, the testicles could be hurt if connecting blood vessels are damaged.
- There could be nerve damage or damage to surrounding organs.
How do I prepare for inguinal hernia repair?
When you meet with your doctor before the surgical procedure, bring a list of all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you take. Be sure to ask for instructions about which medications you need to stop taking before surgery. This normally includes drugs that interfere with the blood’s ability to clot like aspirin. It’s also necessary to tell your doctor if you’re pregnant or think you may be pregnant.
Ask your doctor for precise instructions regarding the procedure and your medical condition. You’ll probably need to stop eating or drinking after midnight or the night prior to your surgery. You’ll also need to arrange for someone to drive you home from the hospital after surgical procedure.
What’s the procedure for inguinal hernia repair?
Open surgery or surgery with a laparoscope can typically repair an inguinal hernia.
Your doctor will put you under general anesthesia to keep you asleep during the surgery and so you don’t feel any pain. They might decide to use local anesthesia if the hernia is small. In this case, you’ll be awake for the procedure, but you’ll receive medications to numb the pain and help you relax.
Your doctor will make an incision, locate the hernia and separate it from nearby tissues. Then they’ll push the herniated tissue back into position in your abdomen.
Stitches will close up the tear or strengthen weak abdominal muscles. Your doctor will attach mesh to strengthen the abdominal tissues and reduce the risk of another hernia. Not using mesh will significantly increase the chances of getting a hernia in the future.
Laparoscopy is suitable when the hernia is small and easy to access. This method leaves lesser scars than regular surgery and recovery time is faster. Your doctor will use a laparoscope and miniaturized tools to do what would otherwise be done in open surgery.
What’s the recovery like for inguinal hernia repair?
Your doctor will probably encourage you to get up about an hour after the surgical procedure. Men sometimes have difficulty urinating in the hours after surgery, but a catheter can help. A catheter is a tube that drains urine from the bladder.
Inguinal hernia repair is often an outpatient procedure. This means you can go home the same day as the surgery. However, if there are complications, you may have to stay back in the hospital until they resolve.
If you have open surgery, it may take up to 6 weeks for a full recovery. With laparoscopy, you’ll probably be able to go back to your normal activities within a few days.
: The information provided herein is for patient general knowledge only and should not be used during any medical emergency, diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Duplication for personal and commercial use must be authorized in writing by Surjen.com.