An inguinal hernia occurs when fatty tissues push through a weak muscle in the abdominal wall near the inguinal canal or groin area and can extend into the scrotum in males.
Inguinal canals occur in both men and women. Sometimes they may not show any symptoms so people don’t seek any treatment while sometimes they may be very painful during movements.
There are Two Types of Inguinal hernia:
- Direct inguinal hernia: It is the result of a defect or weakness in the inguinal canal or groin area. It is often found in adults, especially males.
- Indirect Inguinal hernia: It occurs in premature births where the opening does not close during fetal development. It is discovered in the early years but sometimes may remain undetected until adulthood.
There may be some severe conditions when an inguinal hernia is left untreated. There occurs a situation where part of the intestine from the inside the abdomen gets stuck in the inguinal canal and cannot go back into the abdomen is known as an incarcerated hernia. And when an incarcerated hernia is not treated, the blood supply to the intestine may be cut off causing strangulation. This is a life-threatening situation which needs immediate medical attention.
Can you feel an inguinal hernia?
Most inguinal hernias may have one or more following symptoms:
- You may feel pain during movements, weakness, pressure or burning sensation in the abdomen, groin, or scrotum. It may cause a problem when you stand for long or put stress on the abdomen, such as lifting heavy weight or coughing.
- You may see a protrusion in the groin area or scrotum that you can push back with the gentle pressure and may disappear when you lie down. The bulge may grow with time.
- You may experience sudden and severe pain in the groin area. There may be symptoms like nausea, vomiting, fever, and the bulge me turn red or dark in color. If you notice both pain and bulging, you must immediately consult a doctor.
Laparoscopic surgery to repair an inguinal hernia
Hernias do not heal on their own, whether it is direct or indirect. You need surgery where laparoscopic is the most preferred way to treat an inguinal hernia. The surgery is performed under general anesthesia. It is the minimally invasive process a thin telescope-like instrument called a laparoscope is used. It is inserted through one of the small incisions made to perform the surgery.
There is no pain during the surgery. The abdomen is inflated with carbon dioxide, which is a harmless gas. It creates space in the abdomen to allow the doctor to view the internal organs. Even the laparoscope is connected to a camera on top that projects the view inside the abdomen on the screen.
The surgeon cuts the inner lining of the abdomen to see the weakness in the abdominal wall. A mesh is placed inside to cover the defects in the abdomen and strengthen the tissue. Once the structures are placed in its place, The surgeon closes the incisions with adhesive glue, which is not harmful at all.
The reasons why people choose laparoscopic surgery are:
- No cuts, no wounds, and no pain approach.
- The recovery time is short (4-5 days).
- Hospital stay is short after the surgery (24-48 hours).
- If the hernias are on both sides, they can be repaired at the same time without making any large cut or extra incisions. Laparoscopic surgery allows the surgeon to examine all sites of hernias for the defect.
- The incisions are very small; it is more appealing for cosmetic reasons.
- Repair of recurrent hernia is easier.
Laparoscopic surgery is different from open surgery in the following ways:
- The surgeon puts a large cut in the groin area or affected area in case of open surgery. This may cause infection or blood clot post surgery.
- Open surgery has a longer hospital stay after the surgery as compared to laparoscopic surgery.
- Even the recovery time is more in an open approach (3-4 weeks) as the stitches take time to heal.
What is the main cause of inguinal hernia?
The primary reason for the cause of an inguinal hernia could be the result of a weak spot in the abdominal wall. Weakness may be because of the defect since birth or may have formed later in life. The other reasons may be:
- Pressure in the abdomen
- Lifting heavyweight
- Continuous straining during urination or bowel movements
- Chronic cough
What is post-operative care?
- Light diet for the first 24 hours after the surgery
- Resume regular daily activities beginning the next day (no-strain activities)
- Follow up appointments with the doctor 2-3 weeks after the surgery
- Consult the doctor in case of pain or any other problem related to the same.
Does inguinal hernia always need surgery to repair?
Yes, a hernia will not get cured on its own. With time, hernia tends to get bigger as the muscle wall tends to get weaker with time. Sometimes a hernia may not show any symptoms and does not need any repair.
Surgical methods for hernia have come a long way. New techniques and materials offer options that reduce pain and discomfort. The advancement in technology helps you recover faster than you may imagine. You can get back to a healthy and normal life faster than you might think. Call your doctor to repair your hernia. Do not hold onto something which may be cured!
Also Read: Precautions after inguinal hernia surgery