What is Hernia?
Hernia can be defined as the protrusion of tissues and other internal organs due to weakened cavity walls. Typically, these internal organs and tissues are contained in a thin membrane which margins the cavity. When this tears out, hernias are developed. Hernias can become an emergency situation especially when these impede the blood supply in a certain area of the body. This happens when the hernia puts forth pressure on blood vessels and blood flow is cut off.
There are actually different types of hernia which include inguinal, femoral, hiatal, umbilical, incisional, Spigelian and a few others. Each type of hernia has different incidence rate in men and women. Some hernias are being more prominent in men than women and vice versa. Hernias can actually be repaired through different approaches such as herniotomy, hernioplasty and herniorrhapy. You will learn more about hernia repair in the following paragraphs.
Hernia Repair Surgery
Hernia may leave you asymptomatic but in the long run this may become painful and more serious complications may arise. Hernia repair is a surgical operation performed to correct the bulging out or protrusion of tissues and internal organs out of a body cavity. This surgery may just be performed in an outpatient basis. In the United States alone, there are about five hundred thousand hernia repair surgeries performed each year. There are actually different types of hernia repair and these include the following:
Open hernia repair
In an open hernia repair, any type of anesthesia can be utilized. This would entirely depend on the personal preference of the physician as well as the patient’s. The patient’s general state of health also has to be considered. When general anesthesia is being used, the patient will be sedated all throughout the procedure and he may not be able to remember most of it. Epidural and spinal anesthesia may also be given to a patient undergoing hernia repair. Local anesthesia may be used for numbing a smaller area and this is usually given with sedation.
Once the anesthesia has taken effect, this is usually the time that the surgery proper begins. Prior to making any incisions, the operative site is cleaned with antiseptic to prevent infections. The physician would then make an incision directly on the hernia. The out-pouching internal organs are then fixed and pushed back to where it should belong. The weakened cavity lining is then repaired using a structured mesh or through suturing. In adults, the entire procedure would usually last for about an hour and in children it would take only about 30 minutes to complete.
Laparoscopic hernia repair
This procedure is pretty much the same with open hernia repair, only that this one makes use of a laparoscope. A laparoscope is a tiny viewing device that is inserted into the small incision. Smaller incisions are only required in laparoscopic hernia repair. This is considered more advantageous than open hernia repair in terms of recovery period. Oftentimes, the recovery rate of people who have undergone laparoscopic hernia repair is pretty fast. Nevertheless, this also has its pitfalls. Laparoscopic hernia repair makes use of general anesthesia and this type of anesthetics involves greater risk than any other types. There are several considerations that must be made before the patient is subjected to this kind of procedure. For instance, if the patient has excess adipose tissues the laparoscope may not be able to clearly view the hernia. Aside from that, there are also certain conditions which do not make the patient candidate for general anesthesia.
Preparations before the Surgery
Most hernia repair surgeries can be completed in an hour or so and the patient may just be discharged home hours after the surgery. In certain instances that the patient needs to spend at least a night in the hospital, it is an assurance that he will be discharged the following day.
Prior to the surgery, usually days before, the patient has to submit himself to lab workups which include urinalysis and blood tests. Electrocardiogram (ECG) test and chest x-ray may also be performed to ascertain the patient’s general health condition.
For instance, if the patient takes medications that would thin out the blood such as Coumadin and Aspirin, the doctor would usually instruct to stop taking these drugs at least 3 to 4 day before the surgery. This should be done to decrease the chances of bleeding during the surgery. Maintenance medications may also be interrupted during the day of the surgery.
Lastly, it is very important to instruct the patient not to take anything by mouth, including food, water and medications, by midnight until the day of the surgery and even after the surgery not unless flatus comes out. This is an indication that the digestive tract has returned to its normal functions.
Complications rarely occur in people who have hernia repair. However, if in any chance complications would occur, these would include the following:
- Bleeding- This is a common post-operative complication.
- Discolored scrotum- The scrotum may turn black or blue following an inguinal hernia repair surgery. This may be applicable only to men.
- Difficulty urinating
- Respiratory problems- This is usually a complication of general anesthesia.
The doctor should right away be informed when any of the following is present because these are considered emergency conditions. He should be especially notified when there is difficulty of breathing, fever that does not subside over a period of 24 hours, profuse bleeding, pus discharge and severe swelling in the operative site. These should be reported immediately to prevent serious damages to the body.
Patients who have underwent the conventional type of hernia repair would usually require more time before they can return to their usual activities of daily living. This is due to the soreness and discomforts that may still be present a couple of days after the surgery. On the other hand, those who underwent laparoscopic hernia repair may resume performing their usual task just a few days after the surgery given that these activities are not strenuous.