Definition of a hernia: A hernia occurs when part of the intestine pushes through a weakness in the abdominal wall. This causes a visible bulge in the groin area, known as an inguinal hernia. Hernias are more common in males, and may be present at birth or develop later in life while straining, lifting, or coughing, or if obesity increases pressure in the abdomen.
This article on abdominal hernia repair surgery is written by Jackie Griffiths, a freelance journalist who writes health, medical, biological, and pharmaceutical articles for national and international journals, newsletters and web sites.
A hernia is not dangerous on its own, although there’s a risk it could become trapped (strangulated) which cuts off the blood supply to the affected area. This can cause life-threatening conditions such as gangrene and peritonitis. If left untreated, a hernia is likely to get larger and result in the bowel being obstructed.
Treatment of a hernia (hernia repair)
In order to treat a hernia, a hernia repair operation is required to push the intestine back in place and strengthen the abdominal wall. It is a simple procedure that can be carried out under local or general anaesthetic, and you can usually return home the same day. If possible, a keyhole (laparoscopic) procedure will be performed which minimises the size of the incision and reduces the risk of complications. Otherwise, in the case of large hernias, open surgery is needed.
Before the operation
There are certain things you can do to reduce the risk of complications when undergoing a hernia repair operation. Quitting smoking and losing weight are two fundamental starting points. Get advice from your doctor if you have existing problems with your blood pressure, heart, or lungs, or if you take the contraceptive pill or are having hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
On the day of your hernia repair operation take a bath or shower at home and remove all make-up, nail varnish, and jewellery. Take any medication with you to the hospital. Make sure you have a friend or relative available to get you to, and from, the hospital, and to look after you for the first week after surgery.
Do not eat or drink for six hours before undergoing general anaesthesia, as per your doctor’s instructions. However, occasional sips of water may be allowed for up to two hours beforehand.