Approximately 600,000 hernia repair operations are performed annually in the United States.
What Is an Inguinal Hernia?
A hernia occurs when the inside layers of the abdominal muscle have weakened, resulting in a bulge or tear. In the same way that an inner tube pushes through a damaged tire, the inner lining of the abdomen pushes through the weakened area of the abdominal wall to form a small balloon-like sac. This can allow a loop of intestine or abdominal tissue to push into the sac. The hernia can cause severe pain and other potentially serious problems that could require emergency surgery.
Both men and women can get a hernia.
A hernia does not get better over time, nor will it go away by itself.
How Do I Know If I Have an Inguinal Hernia?
The common areas where hernias occur are in the groin (inguinal), belly button (umbilical), and the site of a previous operation (incisional).
It is usually easy to recognize a hernia. You may notice a bulge under the skin. You may feel pain when you lift heavy objects, cough, strain during urination or bowel movements, or during prolonged standing or sitting.
The pain may be sharp and immediate or a dull ache that gets worse toward the end of the day.
Severe, continuous pain, redness, and tenderness are signs that the hernia may be entrapped or strangulated. These symptoms are cause for concern and immediate contact of your physician or surgeon.
What Causes a Hernia?
The wall of the abdomen has natural areas of potential weakness. Hernias can develop at these or other areas due to heavy strain on the abdominal wall, aging, injury, an old incision or a weakness present from birth. Anyone can develop a hernia at any age. Most hernias in children are congenital. In adults, a natural weakness or strain from heavy lifting, persistent coughing, difficulty with bowel movements or urination can cause the abdominal wall to weaken or separate.
Laparoscopic Hernia Repair is a technique to fix tears in the abdominal wall (muscle) using small incisions, telescopes and a patch (mesh). If may offer a quicker return to work and normal activities with a decreased pain for some patients.
What Should I Expect After Laparoscopic Surgery?
Following the operation, you will be transferred to the recovery room where you will be monitored for 1-2 hours until you are fully awake.
Once you are awake and able to walk, you will be sent home.
With any hernia operation, you can expect some soreness mostly during the first 24 to 48 hours.
You are encouraged to be up and about the day after surgery.
With laparoscopic hernia repair, you will probably be able to get back to your normal activities within a short amount of time. These activities include showering, driving, walking up stairs, lifting, working and engaging in sexual intercourse.
Call and schedule a follow-up appointment within 2 weeks after your operation.
When To Call Your Doctor
Be sure to call your physician or surgeon if you develop any of the following:
- Persistent fever over 101 degrees F (39 C)
- Increasing abdominal or groin swelling
- Pain that is not relieved by your medications
- Persistent nausea or vomiting
- Inability to urinate
- Persistent cough or shortness of breath
- Purulent drainage (pus) from any incision
- Redness surrounding any of your incisions that is worsening or getting bigger
- You are unable to eat or drink liquids