Who needs hernia surgery?
Hernia surgery is recommended for patients with:
- Hernia causing symptoms
- Hernia that is increasing in size
- Specific types of hernias at high risk of complications (e.g. femoral hernia, Spigelian hernia)
How is hernia surgery performed?
Hernia surgery can be performed through open or laparoscopic technique. It is usually performed under general anaesthesia, however, open surgery may be done under local or regional anaesthesia.
Open Hernia Surgery
An incision is made at the site of the hernia. The protruding tissue and organs are pushed back into the abdominal cavity. There are various techniques for closing the defect. Small defects can be closed with sutures. Large defects are best dealt with by placing an artificial mesh over the defect, with the advantage that a large area is covered and extra support is provided. The incision is closed with dissolvable sutures and covered with a waterproof dressing.
The procedure can take between 1 to 2 hours.
Laparoscopic Hernia Surgery
Laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery can be used to treat many types of hernias. Usually 3 small incisions are made in the abdomen. A laparoscope is inserted through one of the incisions. Carbon dioxide gas is blown into the abdominal cavity. Other surgical instruments are inserted. Tissue around the hernia is cleared away and the protruding tissue and organs are pulled back into the abdominal cavity. The defect is covered with an artificial mesh, which is anchored in place with sutures and special staples. All instruments are removed and the carbon dioxide is allowed to escape. The incisions are closed with dissolvable sutures and covered with waterproof dressings.
The procedure usually takes around 1 hour.
Laparoscopic hernia surgery may not be suitable in some people for a number of reasons, including:
- Inability to have a general anaesthetia
- Scar tissue (adhesions) due to previous surgery
- Bleeding disorders
- Pregnancy (especially during the final 3 months of pregnancy)
What is the expected recovery after hernia surgery?
The recovery is different for each person. Most people go home on the day or the morning after surgery. Vigorous exercise (such as jogging, swimming and tennis) and heavy lifting (over 5 kg) should be avoided for 4 to 6 weeks after surgery.
A follow-up appointment is arranged for 3 weeks after surgery.
What are potential complications of hernia surgery?
All surgery has risks despite the highest standard of practice. The following possible complications are listed to inform not to alarm. There may be other complications that are not listed.
- Injury to blood supply to testicle (in males with inguinal hernia)
- Injury to nearby organs
- Wound infection
- Mesh infection
- Chronic pain from involvement of nerve in repair
- Hernia recurrence
Dr Mary Ling performs both open and laparoscopic hernia surgery. At your consultation, Dr Ling will help you decide which procedure is best for you. Dr Ling performs hernia surgery at Brisbane Waters Private Hospital and Gosford Private Hospital on the Central Coast.