HERNIAS Q&A

Q: What is a hernia?

A: A hernia is a defect on the abdominal wall that contains fat and/or intestines. 

Q: How does one get a hernia?

A: Most hernias are inherited and not acquired. Another reason a person gets a hernia is at the site of previous surgery, called an incisional hernia.

Q: When should I have a hernia repaired?

A: When this hernia is symptomatic, getting larger, unable to push it is or tender to touch. 

Q: Why does one need a hernia repaired?

A: A hernia is repaired to prevent strangulation of the intestines. This is when the intestines get entrapped in the hernia and the blood supply is compromised. This is an emergency and requires immediate attention. It is always best to repair the hernia electively and not allow for this situation to occur.

Q: What are the different types of hernia?

A: Hernias names are based on the location and cause of the hernia. There are many types and names but the  basic general types are 

  • Ventral - any place in the abdominal wall

  • Inguinal - located in the groin (right or left)

  • Femoral - slightly below the groin and into the leg called femoral as it is close to the femoral vessels  and nerve that bring blood supply to the leg

  • Umbilical - as the name indicates, this is a hernia in or around the umbilicus. 

  • Incisional - Hernia that aroused at the site of a previous surgery

Q: What determines the type of hernia repair used?

A: Hernia repairs are dominated by minimally invasive techniques, either laparoscopic or robotic. More traditional open procedures are also used in certain circumstances. 

Q: Is mesh always used for hernia repair?

A: Hernia repairs are usually done with mesh. the reason for this is a lower recurrence rate. This is because hernia mesh prevents or reduces tension which is one factor that increases the risk of recurrence. In certain scenarios mesh can not be used. We have synthetic mesh and also biologic materials mesh. Biologics are usually used in contaminated or infected fields. 

Q: Is hernia mesh dangerous?

A: Hernia mesh is safe to use.  The design of the mesh takes into account the location of the hernia mesh placement and if it will be close to the bowels, then it has a barrier. More and more nowadays these meshes are placed within the tissues avoiding direct contact with the intraabdominal organs. The concern is always the potential for infection, adhesions, or migration of the mesh. During the planning of the procedure and during the surgery a decision to place the appropriate mesh and location are addressed and considered to assure the best possible scenario and outcome. Mesh has decreased the risk of recurrence markedly and that is why we use it. 

Q: What is the recovery like after hernia repair?

A: The recovery is very personal and individualized dependent on the size of the hernia, the procedure, and the occupation of the individual. In general, most people are back to normal activity with very few restrictions when minimally invasive repairs are undertaken.