A hernia is a weakness in the muscles of the abdominal wall (belly), through which bowel or fat bulges out. The most common site for a hernia is in the groin. The commonest groin hernia is called an inguinal hernia, which can occur on either the right or left side. The bulge may appear during vigorous activity, or when coughing or straining, and usually disappears when lying down. There are many other types of hernia, such as femoral, umbilical and epigastric - these names denote the anatomical area of the weakness through which the hernia travels.
What is the treatment for a hernia?
The only effective treatment is an operation to repair the weakness with a mesh – a synthetic net which helps to strengthen the abdominal wall. This can be performed using either the traditional open method, or a keyhole (laparoscopic) method.
What does the open operation involve?
In the open operation, Mrs Badvie places an incision (cut) over the hernia, and the weakness is repaired directly over the hernia.
What does the keyhole (laparoscopic) operation involve?
Mrs Badvie will pass a camera through your umbilicus (belly button) and the hernia is repaired from within, through your abdominal cavity, working with long instruments in your sides. Keyhole surgery is not suitable for all patients, and Mrs Badvie will discuss your own suitability with you.
Is it necessary to repair a hernia?
Repairing the hernia will relieve any pain or discomfort felt when the lump is present and bulges. In addition, performing the operation in a planned way will prevent the problem of the hernia becoming blocked or strangled in the future, and this is a potentially life-threatening emergency. This may never happen to you but it is very difficult to predict which hernias are at risk, so current guidelines recommend offering a repair in a planned way whenever possible.
Will I be asleep during the operation?
If you are having the keyhole operation, you will have a general anaesthetic and be entirely asleep, as it cannot be performed in any other way. If you are having the open operation, you are likely also to have a general anaesthetic, unless our anaesthetist feels that your risk for surgery is high. In this situation, we will discuss other methods with you, such as numbing the area with local anaesthetic or performing the operation with anaesthetic in the spine. Before the operation, you will be sent an appointment to attend our Pre-assessment Clinic, where your general health will be assessed to determine your fitness for surgery.
When can I get back to normal activity?
You will be encouraged to walk and get back to normal activities as soon as possible. Simple painkillers will be provided for the first few days, although many people find they are not needed beyond the first 3 days. You should avoid heavy lifting for 6 weeks after the operation, to allow time for your surgery to heal and your repair to become strong. You will be able to drive when you can complete an emergency stop, which for most people is 1-2 weeks after this operation.
Where can I get more information?
When you see Mrs Badvie in the outpatient clinic, she will discuss your particular type of hernia with you in detail, and provide you with the relevant information leaflet on the operation, risks and benefits. Please do ask any questions you have, and mention any concerns. For further information, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org