Sponsored - A hernia is an abnormal opening or hole or defect. Some hernias are congenital, meaning that you are born with it and it has been there your whole life while some are acquired and developed later on due to any number of reasons. These reasons might include an injury, heavy lifting, smoking, genetics, or for no good reason whatsoever.
Hernias are incredibly common and there are many types of hernias. These include umbilical or belly button hernias, inguinal or femoral, also called groin hernias, hiatal hernias, which are commonly seen in patients with reflux disease, and various other abdominal wall hernias. “Anyone can get them,” says Dr. Ryan Bly of Surgical Associates of Neenah. “A family history of having an inguinal hernia, smoking, and men who have had previous abdominal surgery are at greater risk for developing an inguinal hernia. Inguinal hernia repair typically peaks twice; early childhood and old age, whereas the prevalence of femoral hernia repair increases steadily throughout life.”
“Hernias can occur in so many places, there can be an abnormal opening anywhere,” says Dr. Bly. “Inguinal hernias account for 75% of abdominal wall hernias. About 25% of males and approximately 2% of female, will develop an inguinal hernia in their lifetime. Repair of an inguinal hernia is one of the most common operations in general surgery.”
When should a hernia be fixed? If the hernia is small with very minor or no symptoms, sometimes you can choose to watch it. If the hernia is causing symptoms, such as pain, or enlarging, or if incarceration is present, meaning that things get stuck in the hernia and don’t want to go back in, then repair is recommended. In severe cases, it can become strangulated, where a loop of intestine can stick out and the blood supply to the intestine is cut off. This leads to that part of the intestine possibly dying and that part needs to be taken out. It is much easier to repair a hernia before it gets to that point.
What do you do if you think you have a hernia? Hernias are fixed surgically, there is no medicine or pill to make them go away. They require an evaluation by a physician. Sometimes more studies are needed if there is uncertainty. A CT scan is common to evaluate for hernias, and ultrasounds are sometimes used as well to get more information.
How do we fix it? Generally speaking, there are a few different ways. The historic way included what is called an open approach. An incision was made directly over the hernia and the part that stuck out was pushed back in, the hole was closed, and the area might be reinforced with a piece of mesh to help decrease recurrence risk. Approximately 20 years ago, laparoscopic hernia repair started to become a common way to repair a hernia. Laparoscopic hernia repair is very similar surgery but with smaller incisions in the belly.
“Now, robotic-assisted hernia repairs are on the rise,” says Dr. Bly. “The robotic platform allows us to do more complicated and difficult hernia repairs through small key hole-size incisions which allows for an easier recovery, less pain, less wound problems, and excellent results. Our goal for surgery is to close the defect and restore normal anatomy and function. Sometimes we close the hole with only sutures, called a primary repair. Sometimes we like to use a piece of mesh to reinforce our repair. This helps decrease the chances of the hernia coming back.”
If you have been diagnosed with a hernia, contact the surgeons at Surgical Associates of Neenah. Through robotic assisted surgery we offer our patients reduced recovery time, smaller scaring, and shorter hospital stays. Our surgeons lead the area’s highest level trauma center. You do not need a referral to contact our surgeons.