A hernia occurs when an organ or tissue protrudes through an abnormal opening in the body. The most common is an inguinal (groin) hernia, which represents more than 90 percent of hernias that occur. This happens when a small piece of the bowel bulges out through a hole or weakness in the inguinal canal, which is a passage through the muscles of the abdominal wall. As a result, a piece of bowel bulges into the groin. This can occur in both men and women but is much more common in men. Direct inguinal hernias occur when a weak spot develops in the lower abdominal muscles. Indirect inguinal hernias occur when the inguinal canal has failed to close before birth.
Other types of hernias, which represent less than 1 percent of total hernias include: incisional (relating to a previous surgery), ventral (relating to a defect in the muscles of the abdomen), umbilical (a weakness at the navel), femoral (relating to the blood vessels between the groin and the leg – and more common in women), and hiatal (relating to the diaphragm.)
You may notice your hernia as a lump or a bulge. Hernias often cause pain and sometimes a feeling of pressure, burning, “gurgling” or weakness. You may notice that the pain or feelings become stronger as you spend time standing or if you do any straining or lifting.
Some people live with hernias for years. The downside of this is not just the pain, however. Ignoring a hernia increases the risk of what’s called incarceration (the hernia gets stuck where it has protruded) and strangulation (blood supply to the trapped tissue is cut off).
Hernia Surgery Wait Time
Unless you have a strangulated hernia, which is viewed as an emergency, your hernia repair will be seen as “elective.” As a result of rationing of care by the Canadian public health system and limited operating room times for surgeons, this means your surgery may be delayed and will be subject to being cancelled. Timely Medical Alternatives can help you find a private clinic to expedite your case so you can get the surgery you need as quickly as possible.
Typically, we can get you hernia surgery within 2-3 weeks from the time we receive your diagnostic package. In certain cases, we can get a client surgery within 24 hours. Call or e-mail us to get an accurate quote and timeline for your surgery.
Open surgery is a common technique for repair of an inguinal hernia. The biggest advantage is that it can usually be done with a local anesthetic. The surgeon makes an incision over the site of the hernia and then returns the protruding tissue to the abdominal area. He or she then repairs the hole or weakness by sewing surrounding muscles over the defect. Alternatively, and more commonly today, the surgeon will simply insert a piece of mesh to cover the area of the defect without sewing together the surrounding muscles.
In some patients, surgeons may suggest a laparoscopy rather than open surgery for repair of an inguinal hernia. This means the surgeon will perform the hernia repair using a laparoscope – a special and very small camera used to examine the inside of the body. While you are asleep under a general anesthetic, the surgeon makes small incision and using a narrow tube-like instrument known as a cannula, inserts the laparoscope. Then, making several other small incisions, he or she inserts instruments and repairs the hernia. The advantage of a laparoscopy is that it offers a faster recovery time and usually, less pain, however it is not suitable for all patients or hernia types.
Your surgeon is the best person to help you decide what approach will be best for you.
Hernia surgery recovery time will depend on the location and type of hernia and on the nature of your surgery. Following a laparoscopy, it is likely you can return home the same day and the total recovery time is usually one to two weeks. Following an open surgical hernia repair, your total recovery time will likely be four to six weeks. Your surgeon can give you an estimate of anticipated recovery time at the time of your consultation.
Most hernia surgeries are extremely successful. In a small percentage of cases, the hernia will recur and need to be repaired again.