A hernia is an abnormal protrusion of abdominal contents through a weakness in the abdominal muscle wall. In other words, this means that the intestines that are normally located within the abdomen tend to protrude out through any muscular defects in the abdominal wall. As a result of this, patients often notice a swelling that increases on standing or coughing, and reduces on lying down in bed.
If the hernia continues to progress, the swelling may become prominent at all times, and the defect continues to grow in size. This causes pain, and may cause obstruction of the intestines within the hernia.
Hernia can be of various types depending on the region where it occurs. Most commonly, it occurs in the groin, where it is known as an INGUINAL HERNIA. Other than this, FEMORAL (below the groin in the upper part of the thigh), UMBILICAL (in the navel), EPIGASTRIC/ VENTRAL (in the midline of the abdomen), and INCISIONAL (at the site of a scar) are the common types.
Rarely, a hernia may be seen in the loin, pelvis, or within the abdominal cavity itself (INTERNAL HERNIA).
The surgery can be performed laparoscopically, robotically, or by the conventional open method. Minimally invasive techniques involve making 3-4 small cuts on the abdomen, and the open method involves making 1 large cut on top of the hernia swelling. In majority of the cases, a synthetic mesh has to be placed over the defect, so that it gains strength and prevents the formation of another hernia.
Patients recover quite quickly with any of these techniques, and can be discharged the day after the surgery.
Large abdominal wall incisional hernias can be treated very well with robotic surgery as well and show very rapid recovery and early discharge with minimal pain after the surgery.