The abdominal wall is made up of a sheet of muscle, which in some individuals may be weak or can become weak. When this weakness occurs, the contents within the abdominal cavity, such as bowel can bulge through the sheet of muscle and cause a bulge known as a hernia.
The main symptoms of a hernia are swelling and pain over the site of the hernia. If a hernia is left untreated there is a very small chance that the contents of the hernia can become trapped (strangulated) which would mean the need for an emergency operation.
Types Of Hernia And Treatment Options Explained
There are a number of different types of hernia, most of which can be routinely repaired if they are caught at an early stage. They are classified as follows:-
An inguinal hernia is a hernia in the groin area, most commonly occurring in men. It can develop on one side of the groin or on both sides. Those who suffer with this condition usually complain of a sharp pain and swelling in the groin area after lifting something heavy.
There are two ways to repair this type of hernia, a conventional “open” repair which involves an 8 cm incision (cut) in the groin, or a laparoscopic (keyhole) repair. Both procedures allow the surgeon to push back the protruding bowel, close the gap and reinforce the muscle with a prosthetic mesh (made of polypropylene or polyester). The two methods are broadly similar, but the laparoscopic method may be less painful and result in a quicker return to normal activities and work. Most patients can choose which approach they would like, although there are certain situations which make one approach better than the other. The laparoscopic procedure is performed under general anaesthetic. The open procedure can be performed under local or general anaesthetic.
This type of hernia is caused by a weakness developing between the middle of the rectus muscle. The rectus muscle is commonly referred to as the ‘six pack’ in fit, lean individuals. The rectus is actually made up of two muscles, the left and right rectus, which should be fused together. In patients suffering with an epigastric hernia a small gap in the fused area opens up, allowing internal fat and occasionally bowel to protrude. This type of hernia can be extremely tender and painful. An operation to repair this type of hernia can be performed under local or general anaesthetic.
Incisional hernias occur when a previous surgical wound creates a weakness in the muscle wall. This type of hernia can occur at any time after surgery, sometimes decades later. This type of hernia can present with or without a bulge in the early stage and then progress to become a substantial bulge. Most incisional hernias can be repaired with a modern key hole approach but the size and severity of the incisional hernia will ultimately dictate which method of repair is most suitable.
Umbilical and Paraumbilical Hernia
These hernias result in gaps in the abdominal wall around the umbilicus (tummy button). These types of hernias can be treated like groin hernias by open repair or laparoscopic repair. The size of the hernia will dictate which is the best operation to do (see above under inguinal hernia).
A femoral hernia is more common in women than men, it presents in a very similar manner to an inguinal hernia, although the site of the bulge is slightly lower in the groin area. This type of hernia is at high risk of becoming strangulated and should be repaired as soon as possible to avoid the risk of strangulation with either of the methods described above under inguinal hernia.
Are There Any Risks Associated With Hernia Repair Surgery?
Although it should be stressed that hernia surgery is very safe surgery, there are small risks associated with it. These include bruising, wound infections, pain at the site of the hernia repair, recurrence of the hernia (usually 1-2%) and a very small risk of damage to internal organs. These will be discussed with you at consultation with your surgeon.
How Do You Find Out If You Are A Suitable Candidate For Hernia Repair Surgery?
If you are unfortunate enough to have a hernia then the only satisfactory method of treatment is surgery! However, how that hernia repair is performed will have a significant impact on how speedy your recovery will be and how successful and lasting your result will be.
At East Midlands Bariatric Unit we understand the significant importance of the surgical repair you are considering and will spend time with you in consultation examining your problem in detail and considering the very best surgical option for you.
How Do You Make A Consultation Appointment?
At consultation you will be given both detailed information about the treatment options you are suitable for and encouraged to ask as many questions as would like. If after careful consideration you decide to have your hernia repaired, then you will be treated swiftly at a time schedule to suit your personal needs and obligations.
If you would like to find out more about hernia repair surgery and discover if you are a suitable candidate for this procedure, please telephone or email the Easy Midlands Bariatric Unit to organise a consultation appointment.