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What are the Different Types of Hernia Operations?

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  • Written By: Cherrine Banks
  • Edited By: Jay Garcia
  • Last Modified Date: 12 August 2018
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A hernia is a swelling of the intestine/abdominal wall found via an abnormally large opening in the muscle wall of the abdomen. Hernia operations are performed for various types of hernias including an epigastic hernia (upper part of the abdomen), a femoral hernia (below the groin fold), a hiatus hernia (internal hernia), an incisional hernia (occurs at the site of prior operations and may be required because of failed healing), an inguinal hernia (found in the lower abdomen just above the leg crease in the groin area), and umbilical hernias (near the belly button or navel).

There are different types of hernia operations. The conventional/traditional hernia operations require an incision over the site of the hernia and the protruding tissue is returned to the abdominal cavity while removing the formed sac. A surgeon repairs the weakness in the abdominal wall by sewing strong muscle over the defect. This older technique for hernia repair involves extensive tension on the muscles which causes pain, stiffness, and swelling. The average patient can experience pain and a prolonged healing process. For the average patient, general anesthesia is used to keep the patient under heavy sedation during the operation.

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Currently, epigastric, femoral, inguinal, and umbilical hernias can be performed using the tension-free technique which uses a mesh (a sterile, thin, flexible material). A surgical incision is performed at the site of the hernia and a piece of mesh is inserted to cover the area of the abdominal wall and the mesh can adjusts to the body's movement and size.

The benefits of using a tension-free technique in a hernia operation are safety, minimal invasiveness, and a quicker rate of recovery. Many patients with medically controlled conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure can have hernia operations after receiving medical clearance by a physician. Some operations may be performed under local anesthesia so the patient is aware and can perform basic activities during the surgery such as coughing. A shorter recovery allows the patient to return to a modified work schedule, enjoy recreational activities like golfing, and engage in travel.

The laparoscopic method uses a long tube with a fiberoptic light source and a telescopic eyepiece connected to a TV monitor. After inserting the laparoscope into the abdominal cavity using a tiny incision, a surgeon views the hernia and repairs it with additional tubes inserted separately. The patient is under general anesthesia and the recovery time can take a few weeks.

Hernia operations are one of the most common operations performed annually and the best method for a patient is based on a careful discussion with his/her primary care doctor/physician to review the pros and cons of the operation. To minimize the rate of a hernia recurring, a doctor may suggest lifestyle changes such as not moving heavy furniture.

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