If you have an inguinal hernia, a surgery can fix it.
It is common for adults to develop an inguinal hernia. There are short and long-term ways of dealing this type of hernia, but it’s always best to discuss the options with your doctor.
What is an inguinal hernia?
Your abdominal cavity contains your intestines and other structures. These are protected by your abdominal wall, which is made up of four layers. Weak spots can develop in the layer of muscle, resulting in the contents of your abdomen, along with the inner layer, pushing through your abdominal wall. This produces a lump called a hernia. Furthermore, an inguinal hernia happens at the inguinal canal. This is a narrow passage in which nerves and a ligament pass through your abdominal wall.
What are the benefits of surgery?
You should no longer have the hernia. Surgery should prevent the serious complications that a hernia can cause and allow you to return to normal activities.
Are there any alternatives to surgery?
Inguinal hernias can be repaired using keyhole surgery and this may be appropriate for you. You can sometimes control the hernia with a truss (padded support belt) or simply leave it alone. It will not get better without surgery.
What does the procedure involve?
The operation is performed under a general anaesthetic and usually takes about 30 minutes (less than an hour for a repair to both sides). Your surgeon will begin by making a small cut on, or near your umbilicus (belly button) so they can insert an instrument in your abdominal cavity to inflate it with gas (carbon dioxide). They will make two small cuts on your abdomen so they can insert tubes (ports) into your abdomen.
This will allow your surgeon to insert surgical instruments through the ports along with a telescope so they can see inside your abdomen and perform the operation. Your surgeon will then return the part of your abdomen that is causing the hernia, and insert a synthetic mesh to cover the weak spot.
What complications can happen?
Like all surgical procedure, there are some levels of risks to consider. Some of these can be serious and can even cause death. However, you can speak to your doctor about the following general and specific complications that may worry you.
General complications of any operation
- Infection of the surgical site (wound)
- Unsightly scarring of your skin
- Blood clot in your leg
- Blood clot in your lung
Specific complications of this operation
Keyhole surgery complications
- Damage to structures such as your bowel, bladder or blood vessels
- Developing a hernia
- Injury to your bowel
- Surgical emphysema
Hernia repair complications
- Developing a collection of blood (haematoma) or fluid (seroma) at the site of the original hernia
- Continued discomfort or pain in your groin
- For men, discomfort or pain in your testicle on the side of the operation
- For men, difficulty passing urine
- For men, damage to the blood supply of your testicle
How soon will I recover?
Depending on how well your body responds to the surgery, you should be able to go home the same day or the day after. It is best to never rush recovery. You may return to normal activities when you feel comfortable to do so, usually after a week. Do not play sports or do strenuous exercise for three weeks.
Additionally, having regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice. Most people make a full recovery and can return to normal activities. Please bear in mind that the hernia can come back many years later and you may need another operation.
An inguinal hernia is a common condition caused by a weakness in your abdominal wall, near the inguinal canal. If left untreated, an inguinal hernia can cause serious complications and discomfort. So, it’s best to deal with the problem as soon as possible. To find out more, call us on 0808 101 0337.
Author: Mr Ian Beckingham DM FRCS
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