Laparoscopic Hernia Repair

A hernia is a bulge that occurs when the internal organs or tissues push through a weakened area of the abdominal wall forming a protruding sac like structure. Most hernias commonly occur in the groin region (between the abdomen and thighs). A bulge found below the groin is called a femoral hernia, near the navel is called an umbilical hernia and a protrusion through a previous incisional scar is called an incisional hernia. If a loop of intestine or tissue becomes trapped in this sac, it can cause severe complications and requires immediate evaluation and treatment to prevent tissue death.

Hernias will not get better by themselves and often need surgical treatment to prevent the risk of strangulation (loss of blood supply to the entrapped herniated part). Laparoscopic surgery is a minimal invasive surgery in which a laparoscope (a flexible tube with a lighted device and video camera attached at its end) is inserted through a tiny incision made in the abdominal wall. The hernia bulge is reduced (pushed back into the abdominal cavity) and repaired without making a long incision as in traditional "open" surgery.

Laparoscopic hernia surgery

Laparoscopic surgery is performed under the effects of general anaesthesia. The steps include:

  • Your surgeon makes a small incision near the navel and inserts a laparoscope through it. Two more incisions are each made on the sides of your abdomen to insert special instruments.
  • Carbon dioxide gas is passed to inflate the abdomen so that internal organs are clearly visible on the monitor while the procedure is performed.
  • Your surgeon will reduce or push the protruded part of the hernia into the abdomen and patch the weakened part with a mesh to strengthen the abdominal wall.
  • The inner lining of the abdomen (peritoneum) is then stapled or closed with sutures. The abdominal incisions are stitched or covered with surgical tape and allowed to heal.

Benefits of laparoscopic surgery over open surgery

Laparoscopic hernia surgery is an ideal approach for patients with recurrent hernias. Benefits of laparoscopic surgery include:

  • Tiny incisions with less scarring
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Faster recovery
  • Less post-operative pain
  • Fewer complications

Risks of laparoscopic hernia surgery

As with any surgery, laparoscopic hernia repair involves certain risks and complications. They include:

  • Sticking of the internal organs to the patch
  • Damage to the intestine
  • Spermatic cord damage in men
  • Blood vessels or nerve damage
  • Infection of the patch
  • Wound infection and bleeding

After laparoscopic hernia repair, you can return to work after about 2 weeks when you feel better. If your job involves strenuous activities or lifting heavy objects, you may need to be off for at least 6 weeks. You may experience pain, soreness and swelling around the incision sites, which will subside after a few days. Seek immediate medical help if you experience high fever, vomiting or nausea, increased abdominal pain, swelling or foul-smelling discharge from the wounds.

  • 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