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Hernia Repair

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The wall of the human 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, and difficulty with bowel movements or urination can cause the abdominal wall to weaken or separate. The common areas where hernias occur are in the groin (inguinal), belly button (umbilical), and the site of a previous operation (incisional).

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. At times, a hernia can cause severe pain and other potentially serious problems that could require surgery.

Both men and women can get a hernia, and some may be born with a hernia (congenital) or develop one over time. A hernia does not get better over time, nor will it go away by itself.

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 if you experience them, you should immediately contact your physician.

Laparoscopic Hernia Repair is a technique to fix tears in the abdominal wall (muscle) using small incisions, telescopes and a patch (mesh). It may offer a quicker return to work and normal activities with a decreased pain for some patients.

HOW TO PREPARE

Most hernia operations are performed on an outpatient basis, and therefore you will probably go home on the same day that the operation is performed. Preoperative preparation includes blood work, medical evaluation, chest x-ray and an EKG depending on your age and medical condition. If you have difficulties moving your bowels, an enema or similar preparation may be used after consulting with your surgeon.

• After midnight the night before the operation, you should not eat or drink anything except medications that your surgeon has told you are permissible to take with a sip of water the morning of surgery.

• Drugs such as aspirin, blood thinners, anti-inflammatory medications (arthritis medications) and Vitamin E will need to be stopped temporarily for several days to a week prior to surgery.

• Diet medication or St. John’s Wort should not be used for the two weeks prior to surgery.

• Quit smoking and arrange for any help you may need at home.

RESULTS

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.

WHAT TO EXPECT

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.

Common advantages of having the surgical procedure performed laparoscopically are:

• Less postoperative pain

• May shorten hospital stay

• May result in a faster return to solid-food diet

• May result in a quicker return of bowel function

• Quicker return to normal activity

• Improved cosmetic results

RISKS

Any operation may be associated with complications. The primary complications of any operation are bleeding and infection, which are uncommon with laparoscopic hernia repair. There is a slight risk of injury to the urinary bladder, the intestines, blood vessels, nerves or the sperm tube going to the testicle. Difficulty urinating after surgery is not unusual and may require a temporary tube into the urinary bladder for as long as one week.

Any time a hernia is repaired it can come back. This long-term recurrence rate is not yet known. Your surgeon will help you decide if the risks of laparoscopic hernia repair are less than the risks of leaving the condition untreated.

Be sure to call your physician or surgeon if you develop any of the following:

• Persistent fever over 101 degrees F (39 C)

• Bleeding

• Increasing abdominal or groin swelling

• Pain that is not relieved by your medications

• Persistent nausea or vomiting

• Inability to urinate

• Chills

• Persistent cough or shortness of breath

• Purulent drainage (pus) from any location

• Redness surrounding any of your incisions that is worsening or getting bigger

• You are unable to eat or drink liquids

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