A hernia is a weakness in the wall of the abdomen. Fat or bowel can then protrude through this weakness and may be noticed as a lump. Often this lump will come and go with coughing, standing/lying or straining. Common sites of hernias are in the groins (inguinal and femoral hernias), around the belly button (periumbilical hernias) or through the incisions of previous surgery (incisional hernia) but they can occur in other sites of the abdominal wall and even within the abdomen itself. If a hernia is causing symptoms a repair will usually be advised in order to prevent complications. If a hernia is not repaired it may increase in size over time and there is a risk of fat or bowel becoming stuck in the hernia.
Surgical Repair of a Hernia
Hernias can be repaired either with laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery or via open surgery (with a larger incision). In most cases mesh is used to strengthen the repair. The most suitable repair for each patient will depend on the type of hernia, its size and the medical history of the patient.
Risks of Hernia Surgery
The risks of hernia repair vary with the type of hernia and type of repair but can include:
- Recurrence of the Hernia
- Chronic Pain
- Injury to Adjacent Organs (bowel, bladder or blood vessels)
In addition to these risks any operation with a general anaesthetic is associated with risks to your health. Serious complications in healthy patients are extremely rare. Potential problems can include:
- Heart problems (heart attack, stroke, death)
- Lung problems (pneumonia)
- Blood clots (clots in the legs or lungs)
- Drug reactions
It is important that you tell Dr O’Neill and your anaesthetist if you have any other medical conditions or take any regular medications prior to your surgery.