What is a hernia?
The muscle wall in the abdomen helps keep internal tissue and organs inside the body. Where a weakness develops in the muscle wall, internal tissue can 'stick out' through the muscle.
This appears as a small lump under the skin, which can sometimes be quite painful. Hernias tend to appear in specific spots which are prone to weakness in the muscle wall, for example near the belly button (an umbilical or paraumbilical hernia), in the groin (an inguinal hernia), in the abdomen itself (a femoral hernia) and in scar tissue (an incisional hernia – often resulting from scars from prior surgery).
How is a hernia treated?
Where the hernia is small and not very much tissue is protruding through the muscle wall, it can in some cases be pushed back into place by a doctor (you should not try to do this yourself) – this procedure is called 'hernia reduction'. This is often only a temporary solution, as the weakness in the muscle wall remains.
Where a hernia cannot be treated via reduction (an 'irreducible hernia) surgery is the only option. The majority of hernias will eventually require surgical correction, and any hernia where blood supply to the protruding tissue is cut off or 'strangulated' will require immediate surgery as an emergency procedure.
Hernia repair surgery can be conducted either using laparoscopic techniques or open surgery. Which approach is more suitable is determined by the location of the hernia and how large it is.
There are risks associated with all surgical procedures, such as wound infection, and risks relating to anaesthesia and bleeding during the procedure.
The risks / complications specific to surgery to correct a hernia include (likelihood expressed in percentage of occurrences per procedure):
- Haematoma (a collection of blood or clot under the skin) - less than 0.5%.
- Hernia recurrence - 3%.
- Loss of testicle (inguinal hernia only) - less than 0.1%.
- Mesh infection - less than 0.1%.
- Seroma (pocket of clear fluid under the skin) - less than 1%.
- Severe pain - less than 2%.
- Skin infection (mild) - less than 1%.
Dr Silverman will be able to discuss any possible risks or complications with you well ahead of the procedure.