A hernia occurs when the intestines push through a gap or weak area in the abdominal wall. This isn’t supposed to happen and can lead to serious problems.
Where do hernias commonly occur?
- In the groin – inguinal hernia.
- The belly-button area – umbilical hernia.
- In the uppermost part of the leg – femoral hernia.
- In the scar area where a previous abdominal operation was performed – incisional hernia.
- The stomach pushing into the chest cavity – hiatus hernia.
What are the risks of hernias and what can be done?
Inguinal, femoral, umbilical and incisional hernias often create the potential for serious complications. If a loop of bowel gets caught in the hernia and can’t escape back into the abdomen it’s called incarcerated. If this happens the bowel starts swelling which increases the pressure in the hernia. Once this pressure exceeds the pressure in the small capillary arteries supplying the bowel with blood, flow seizes and the bowel dies. This is called strangulation and is obviously a life-threatening emergency. Although strangulation is uncommon, it can be prevented by repairing the hernia as soon as possible.
How is hernia surgery done?
Over the last 25 years, the most important advancement in hernia surgery has been the placement of an artificial net, or ‘mesh’, which strengthens the tissue and allows for a tension-free hernia repair. The importance of the net is to prevent the tearing of the sutures that were once used to pull the sides of the hole together, leaving a much bigger defect.
Another important advancement in hernia surgery is that it can now be done using keyhole surgery, in other words, laparoscopically. This allows for a much quicker recovery.
What can and can’t I do after having my hernia repaired?
Thanks to treating hernias with the placement of a net, your mobility is quickly restored. Usually, you’ll be able to drive within a week of surgery and be back on the golf course in 3, but no heaving lifting for a minimum of 6 weeks.