A hernia occurs when an organ or internal tissue breaks through a hole in the muscles. Hernia repair surgery or herniorrhaphy involves returning the displaced tissues to their proper position.
Hernioplasty is a type of hernia repair surgery where a mesh patch is sewn over the weakened region of tissue.
Hernia repair surgery is one of the most common surgeries to be performed. According to a 2014 study by the Association of VA Surgeons, more than 350,000 ventral hernias or those in the abdominal region are repaired annually in the United States alone.
Fast facts on hernia repair:
- Small hernias may not cause any symptoms
- In general, hernia surgeries are classified as herniorrhaphy or hernioplasty.
- Hernia repairs are day surgeries, so people go home a few hours afterward.
- Hernia surgeries are considered fairly safe and effective.
As with all surgeries, there are some side effects associated with hernia repair surgeries.
The incision site or wound will probably appear noticeably swollen and red. It will also usually be painful, especially to the touch.
Over-the-counter pain or anti-inflammatory medications may help reduce inflammation and its associated symptoms. Inflammation can also be reduced more immediately by applying ice to the area for 10-minute intervals once every hour.
Less common, but possible complications and risks associated with hernia repair surgeries include:
- organ or tissue damage
- recurrence or return of the hernia
- seroma or a fluid-filled sac under the surface of the skin
- nerve damage and neuralgia or nerve pain that causes tingling or numbness
- constipation or slow bowel movements
- inability or difficulty urinating
- incontinence or urine leakage
- hemorrhage or internal bleeding and hematoma or pooling of blood at the wound
- extensive scaring or adhesions
- incisional hernia that develops through a surgical cut
- fistula or an abnormal opening between two organs
- urinary tract infection
- blood clot
- pneumonia, lung infection, or breathing difficulties
- kidney complications or failure
- mesh pain
Types of hernia
The type of repair may depend on the nature of the hernia. Three types of hernias are most common, including:
- Reducible hernia: When the hernia can be pushed back into the opening it came through.
- Irreducible or incarcerated hernia: When the organ or abdominal tissues have filled the hernia sac, and it cannot be pushed back through the hole it came through.
- Strangulated hernia: When part of an organ or tissue becomes stuck inside the hernia with its blood supply often cut off.
Both hernia surgery techniques can either be done through a large incision or laparoscopically, which involves accessing the misplaced tissues through three or four small cuts made adjacent to the hernia.
Laparoscopic surgeries are done with a lighted fiber-optic cable called a laparoscope that acts like a video camera. By inserting the laparoscope through the small cuts, the surgeons can see what they are doing inside someone's body.