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Hernia repair

Definition

Hernia repair is surgery to correct a hernia. A hernia is an abnormal bulging of internal organs, often the intestine, through a weakness in a muscular wall.

Alternative Names

Herniorrhaphy

Description

This article focuses on surgery to repair a hernia. For information on a specific type of hernia see:

Before surgery, you will be given a sedative to make you drowsy. A local or spinal numbing medicine (anesthesia) will be used so you do not feel pain during the procedure. In some cases, the procedure is done while you are under general anesthesia (unconscious and pain-free).

The surgeon makes a cut over the area of the hernia. The bulging tissue or organ is placed back inside the muscle wall, the muscle tissue is repaired, and the skin is closed. In many inguinal hernia repairs, a small piece of plastic mesh is used to repair the defect in the muscle tissue.

Laparoscopic hernia repair is becoming more popular. This approach uses a minimally invasive technique.

Why the Procedure is Performed

Hernia repair may be recommended when a hernia is painful or symptoms interfere with daily activities. It may also be done when there are large bulges through a small hole, which interferes with blood flow or causes a blocked intestine.

Most hernias should be repaired to prevent the possible complications of restricted blood flow or blocked intestine.

Risks

Risks for any anesthesia include:

  • Reactions to medications
  • Problems breathing

Risks for any surgery include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection

Additional risks of hernia repair include:

  • Injury to nearby structures
  • Hernia returns

Outlook (Prognosis)

Most hernias can be repaired with a simple operation with minimal risks to the patient.

Recovery

Small children have no activity restrictions following routine hernia repair. Older children should avoid contact sports for at least 3 weeks. Getting hit where the wound is could cause the skin to open or it may disrupt the repair (less common).

Adults should avoid heavy lifting or straining for about 6 - 8 weeks after surgery. Such activity can disrupt the hernia repair.

Do not take a bath for at least 5 days after the operation. Soaking may separate the skin tapes and the wound could break open. Sponge bathing for infants and showering for older children are permitted the day after surgery. The wound tapes should be carefully patted dry after showering.

Expect complete recovery from surgery in about 2 - 4 weeks.


Review Date: 10/16/2006
Reviewed By: J.A. Lee, MD, Assistant Professor of Surgery, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
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