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What is a hernia and how can it be repaired?

People can experience different types of hernias, but the majority of them are abdominal ones. A patient might have a hernia if they can feel a soft lump in their groin or belly, or in a scar, they have from a former surgery. There are times when the lump is painful, especially when the person bends over, coughs or lifts something heavy.

There are numerous different types of hernias. These include:

Ingunial hernia

An inguinal hernia occurs when the intestinal or fatty tissues push through the patient’s inguinal canal. This condition is more common in men than women. This is a type of a hernia is noticeable by its appearance and can be uncomfortable when the person stands or practices exercises. There are cases when the bulge becomes jammed and causes complications, so the patient needs emergency surgery. It causes bulges along the groin or pubic areas and it increases in size when the patient coughs or stands up. It can be sensitive or painful to touch.

Femoral hernia

Femoral hernias affect more women than men. People could mistake a femoral hernia with nodes or an enlarged lymph because they are located lower down and in the majority of cases they have a roundish appearance.

It is common for femoral hernias to have a narrow neck, and in this situation, a small portion of bowel becomes trapped and it is required emergency surgery because it causes strangulation. It does not matter if there are pain symptoms associated with this issue or not, it is advisable to have is fixed at the moment of the identification.

Umbilical hernia

Umbilical hernias occur at any age, even if they are associated with the path of the umbilical cord. This type of hernia has the appearance of a bulge close to the tummy button, and it is caused by a weakness in the abdominal wall.

There are no difficulties in repairing an umbilical hernia, the doctor will make a small incision below the patient’s belly button. In the majority of cases, the hernia sac is small, and the surgeon will push it back and they will close the incision with a few sutures. If a hernia is larger, they will place a small mesh under the muscle sheath. In this way, they will close the defect. In both situations, there is no need of general anaesthesia, you can be given a local anaesthetic.

Epigastric hernia

An epigastric hernia is located higher up on the abdominal wall, below the breast bone and above the belly button. It appears when the chest muscles of the patient are weak, and in the majority of situations, it is a quite small hernia sac. If the sac is small, then the hernia will be small as well, and the doctors will have no issues in repairing it through a small incision and a few stitches. The recovery process will be quick.

Sportsman hernia

In this case, there is no actual hernia present, but the symptoms and pain are similar, especially when the patient practice exercises. This condition should be called sportsman’s groin strain.

This condition affects especially young people who practice sports that involve quick pelvic twisting, as rugby, and football. But other sportsmen, as runners, can also deal with this health issue.

If you suspect you have a hernia, it is best to see your doctor, who may be able to treat the hernia, or recommend surgery.

What to expect during the consultation?

When seeing a doctor, they can push the hernias into the patient’s abdomen when they are lying down, but in case this treatment is unsuccessful, then they may suffer from a strangulated inguinal hernia. The doctor will perform a physical exam, and they may ask the patient to cough while there are standing because this is the moment when a hernia is at its largest.

The majority of surgeon recommend open mesh repair. According to the patient’s condition, the doctor will recommend having a general anaesthesia, but if they are advised or they prefer to have a local anaesthesia, this can be an option.

Open mesh repair

The most common way to treat a hernia is through an open mesh repair. This procedure involves the surgeon making an incision into the groin in order to find the hernia bulge. The hernia bulge will be tied off, with a synthetic mesh placed around it. This mesh will strengthen the abdominal wall and prevent the hernia from reappearing in the future.

This procedure is generally carried out under a general anaesthetic, but in some cases, such as when the patient suffers from an inguinal hernia, a local anaesthetic will be administered instead.

Before surgery

When discussing with the surgeon, they will offer the patient advice on what medication they can take and what they should stop before having the procedure. It is advisable to not drink or eat on the night before the surgery, but they can drink small sips of water until about two hours before the procedure. The patient will not be allowed to drive and they will have to be accompanied by someone when they would leave the hospital.

Recovery

According to the type of a hernia, the patient experiences, the surgeon will advise them on the proper treatment to follow after the surgery. It is advisable to take it easy in the following days after the surgery. The patient should not lift heavy objects and get involved in any strenuous exercise. The body needs time to recover after the repair.

  • The patient might experience pain because the muscles have to adapt to the presence of mesh and stitching.
  • It is important to keep an eye on the operation because in case of substantial or continuous bleeding the medical centre has to be noticed.
  • The patient will have to keep the wound dressed as long as the doctor recommends and to keep it clean until it has fully healed and the surgeon removes the stitches.

In case the stitches have to be removed, the patient will have to return to the centre.

Interested in hernia repair? Contact Centre for Surgery today.

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