Inguinal Hernia Repair

An inguinal hernia is a condition in which intra-abdominal fat or part of the small intestine, also called the small bowel, bulges through a weak area in the lower abdominal muscles. An inguinal hernia occurs in the groin- the area between the abdomen and thigh. This type of hernia is called inguinal because fat or part of the intestine slides through a weak area at the inguinal ring, the opening to the inguinal canal. An inguinal hernia appears as a bulge on one or both sides of the groin. An inguinal hernia can occur any time from infancy to adulthood and is much more common in males than females. Inguinal hernias tend to become larger with time.

The two main types of surgery for hernias are as follows:

Open hernia repair: Also called herniorrhaphy, a person is given local anesthesia in the abdomen or spine to numb the area, general anesthesia to sedate or help the person sleep, or a combination of the two. Then the surgeon makes an incision in the groin, moves the hernia back into the abdomen, and reinforces the muscle wall with stitches. The area of muscle weakness is reinforced with a synthetic mesh or screen to provide additional support. This operation is called hernioplasty.
Laparoscopy: Laparoscopic surgery is performed using general anesthesia. The surgeon makes several small incisions in the lower abdomen and inserts a laparoscope, a thin tube with a tiny video camera attached to one end. The camera sends a magnified image from inside the body to a monitor, giving the surgeon a close-up view of the hernia and surrounding tissue. While viewing the monitor, the surgeon uses instruments to repair the hernia using synthetic mesh.

Laparoscopic surgery results in shorter recovery time. However, laparoscopic surgery is not the best option if the hernia is very large or the person has had pelvic surgery.

Most adults experience discomfort after surgery and require pain medication. Vigorous activity and heavy lifting are restricted for several weeks. The doctor will discuss when a person may safely return to work. Infants and children also experience some discomfort and can resume normal activities only after several days.

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