A hernia occurs when part of an internal organ or tissue protrudes through a weak area of muscle. Many hernias are in the lower abdomen and are especially common among men. In fact, about 25 percent of men will develop a hernia in their lifetimes, according to the National Institutes of Health.
A hernia can have many causes. We see congenital hernias, which include most of the groin hernias we see and which happen in both men and women. Prior surgery can also cause hernias, which are known as “incisional hernias.” One of the most common types of hernias are umbilical hernias, or hernias of the belly button, which most people know as “outies.”
Only a small percentage of hernias — about .3% — are actually dangerous. However, hernias are commonly operated on when they become painful. The most common symptoms are pain or pressure in the area of the hernia.
How Do We Fix Hernias?
Hernia repair is one of the most common surgical procedures performed in the U.S. with almost one million operations each year.
The surgery may be performed by laparoscope or by an open procedure, where the surgeon directly repairs the hernia through an incision in the abdominal wall. Surgeons also have the ability now to perform robotic or computer-assisted surgery.
Computer-Assisted Technology allows:
- Wristed instrumentation (similar to having your hands in a small space)
- 3D stabilized magnified view
- Autonomous control for surgeon of three instruments and a camera
- More ergonomic for surgeon
An open surgical technique is when a larger incision is made. This results in good muscle closure, but has a higher incidence of infection.
A laparoscopic technique uses a small incision into which the laparoscope is inserted. The instruments to repair the hernia are inserted through other small incisions in the lower abdomen. Mesh is then placed over the defect to reinforce the abdomen wall. This technique has smaller incidents of infection, but the muscle has a harder time closing the hernia defect.
The type of operation chosen by the surgeon depends upon many factors and is tailored to each specific patient.