What Is a Hernia?
The anatomy of a hernia can be compared to a bulge in the inner tube of a tire. When the tyre is damaged, the inner tube pushes and bulges through the opening of the tyre. Similarly, when a hernia occurs, the inner layer of the abdominal wall may push against and through the abdominal wall defect.
In some cases, a hernia may cause only slight discomfort. Whereas in other cases, a hernia may block digestion and may cause severe pain requiring immediate medical attention.
How Did I Get a Hernia?
Some hernias may be acquired hernias, while others are caused by a congenital weakness, which means a weakness that one was born with. Acquired hernias may be caused by lifting heavy objects, extreme weight gain or persistent coughing.
What Can I Do About A Hernia?
Whether your hernia is congenital or acquired, hernia surgery is the only way to repair your hernia. Inguinal and femoral hernia repairs are the most commonly performed hernia surgeries. In Australia, around 45,000 hernia procedures are performed each year.
Why Is Keyhole Hernia Repair Recommended?
Traditional hernia repair is performed by cutting through the abdominal wall to reach the hernia defect. The incision can range from 7cm to 15cm in length, and is one of the major causes of pain after surgery. In Keyhole Hernia Repair, a laparoscope is used and the need for a large incision is eliminated.
A laparoscope is a small camera that allows the surgeon to visualise as he or she operates inside the body through small incisions. Three small incisions are made, between the navel and the groin. These incisions can range from 0.6cm to 1.3cm, minimising post-operative discomfort and scarring, promoting fast healing, and allowing for a much quicker return to normal activities. However, in certain instances open repair is the best option, especially when individuals may have had multiple abdominal operations for other reasons. Your specialist would be the best person to advice you on this.
What Happens During Hernia Surgery?
During Keyhole Hernia Repair, you are first given a general anaesthesia to ensure you will not feel pain during the surgery. Then three small incisions are made. One incision will be near your navel and the other two will be made in your lower abdomen. The laparoscope and other surgical instruments will be inserted through these incisions. The surgeon will use a special balloon to create a space between layers of the abdominal wall, near the hernia. The doctor will locate the hernia with the laparoscope while viewing it on a TV monitor. The hernia is repaired by placing a strong piece of mesh directly over the hernia defect.
The mesh is a permanently-implanted soft plastic screen placed over the defect to serve as a block to prevent the hernia bulge and pain from coming back. Once the procedure is complete, the small incisions are easily closed with sutures (surgical thread) or surgical tape.
What Should I Expect Soon After Surgery?
Following Keyhole Hernia Repair, you are taken to the recovery room and monitored by a nurse until you are awake and alert. Your surgeon will evaluate your progress and may prescribe medication to relieve discomfort from the surgery. As soon as you feel you are ready, you can return to normal activities, usually within a few days.