Exeter Medical are pleased to offer a new service – Abdominal Hernia Repair
A hernia usually develops between your chest and your hips, when an internal part of the body pushes through a weakness in the muscle or surrounding tissue. Hernias in adults may result from things that strain or stretch the abdominal wall such as persistent coughing, obesity, pregnancy, straining on the toilet or lifting heavy objects. The good news is most hernias can be successfully treated with surgery.
What are the symptoms of a hernia?
The commonest symptoms are pain and noticing a lump. The lump can often be pushed back in or disappears when you lie down; however coughing or straining can make the lump reappear. Hernias can cause discomfort on movement or upon lifting objects. If intra-abdominal contents (bowel or fat) become trapped in a hernia pain may be severe and the hernia lump will feel hard and tender. The skin overlying it may also look inflamed.
Should you experience any of the following symptoms:-
- sudden, severe pain
- difficulty passing stools
- the hernia becomes firm or tender, or can’t be pushed back in
it could mean you have a strangulated and obstructed bowel which is a medical emergency and needs to be treated as a matter of urgency.
Types of hernia
There are several different types of hernia, some of the most common types include:-
This is the most common type of hernia and can be indirect or direct. Found in the groin area, inguinal hernias occur when fatty tissue or a part of your bowel pokes through into your groin at the top of your inner thigh. It tends to be more common in men where there is a natural weak point and structures connecting to the testicle cross the abdominal wall. It is often associated with ageing and repeated strain on the abdomen.
Less common than inguinal hernias, these occur in the groin area when fatty tissue or a part of your bowel pokes through into your groin at the top of the inner thigh. Femoral hernias often affect women and can be associated with ageing and repeated strain on the abdomen.
These occur where tissue pokes through a surgical wound in your abdomen that hasn’t fully healed; especially if the wound became infected.
Umbilical and para-umbilical hernias
These occur when fatty tissue or a part of your bowel pokes through your abdomen near to the belly button (umbilicus). Umbilical hernias can be present from birth but many heal themselves. Hernias near the umbilicus in adults are called para-umbilical hernias and will not heal up without treatment. These can be caused as a result of repeated strain on the abdomen.
What can be done to treat a hernia?
A hernia can be treated by a small operation; usually a day surgery requiring either a local or general anaesthetic. There are two main ways surgery for hernias can be carried out:
- Open surgery – where one cut is made to allow the surgeon to push the lump back into the abdomen.
- Keyhole (laparoscopic) surgery – this is a far less invasive but a more difficult technique where several smaller cuts are made, allowing the surgeon to use various special instruments to repair the hernia.
Although different hernias are treated in different ways all involve the same broad steps – ensuring the hernia sac is freed, placing the hernia sac back into the abdomen or removing the sac completely; plus repairing the weakness in the abdominal wall. Recovery time is usually several weeks.
*Studies have shown that hernias cause more problems if left untreated over time.
What should I do if I suspect I have a hernia?
Unfortunately hernia operations are no longer automatically funded on the NHS; however Exeter Medical’s consultants are happy to see patients who have a hernia and would like to consider having it repaired. This can be performed in Exeter Medical’s own operating theatre at Admiral House, or where more extensive surgery is required there would be the option of having surgery as a private patient either at the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital (RDE) or at Nuffield Health in Exeter.