Hernia Overview

What is Hernia?

A hernia is a bulge formed by a part of an organ (usually the intestine or stomach) when it pushes against a weak spot in the muscle wall that encloses it. It occurs when straining exerts pressure on the weak region such as while lifting heavy objects, having a bowel movement, chronic cough or being obese. Other causes may include an enlarged prostate, poor nutrition, a previous surgical incision (incisional hernia) or when the muscles around the navel do not close at birth. Hernias are common in the abdomen (ventral hernia), belly button (umbilical hernia), at the junction where the oesophagus (food pipe) enters the stomach (hiatal hernia) and groin (inguinal hernia).

What is Involved in Surgery?

Surgery is the treatment of choice for hernias. An emergency procedure is performed when the hernia is strangulated or trapped through the weak spot and the blood supply is cut off. This is a very dangerous complication as it can lead to infection and death of the tissue.

The surgery is performed under spinal or general anaesthesia as an open or minimally invasive laparoscopic procedure. In open or conventional surgical repair, the surgeon makes a large incision over the hernia site; whereas, in laparoscopic surgery, several small incisions are made. With laparoscopy, a narrow, lighted scope, called a laparoscope, is inserted through one incision to enable the surgeon to view the abdomen clearly, and surgical instruments are inserted through the other incisions to repair the hernia.

Your doctor pushes the bulge back into place and may stitch together the weak muscles or tissues. Sometimes, a piece of synthetic mesh is sutured to reinforce the weak region. The incision(s) are closed with stitches or staples.

How can Advanced Technology help me?

Minimally invasive laparoscopic hernia repair is a safe procedure and can be considered instead of the more invasive open approach. Your doctor will discuss the options with you based on your situation.

The laparoscopic approach is most commonly indicated to treat recurrent hernias. It has several benefits over open surgery, but the three biggest benefits of MIS hernia surgery are listed below.

  • Smaller incisions

In view of the tiny incisions made to perform the surgery, you will have smaller scars.

  • Shorter hospitalization

You may go home on the same day or a day after surgery as the minimally invasive surgery is associated with fewer complications, and less post-operative pain and discomfort.

  • Faster recovery

After the surgery, you are able to resume your daily activities faster and return to work after about two weeks.

What is my Recovery Time?

After surgery, your doctor prescribes medications to relieve pain. You can start walking as soon as possible to promote faster recovery and prevent blood clots. You should avoid performing activities such as lifting heavy objects or vigorous exercises for a few weeks or until advised by your doctor.

  • Royal Australasian College of Surgeons
  • St Vincent's Private Hospital
  • Gastroenterological Society of Australia
  • Gastroenterological Society of Australia
  • Monash University
  • Australia and New Zealand Hepatic, Pancreatic and Biliary Association
  • Australia & New Zealand Gastro Oesophageal Surgery Association
  • Eastern Health
  • Royal Australasian College of Surgeons
  • Knox Community Hospital
  • Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract
  • Goulburn Valley Health
  • Epworth Eastern Hospital
  • General Surgeons Australia
  • Association of Upper Gastrointestinal Surgeons (AUGIS) of Great Britain and Ireland
  • Association for Academic Surgery