Hospital Ward

Hernia Repair

A hernia is a weakness in the abdominal wall, usually creating a bulge or lump, and often causing discomfort. There are several types of abdominal wall hernia:

Inguinal (groin) hernia

This is the commonest type of hernia, more frequently seen in men. It can cause pain and discomfort, and if so, repair is usually recommended. There are two main techniques for repairing them. The commonest type of repair is the open mesh technique: via a cut in the groin, the hernia is repaired and a reinforcing mesh placed. Keyhole or laparoscopic surgery can also be used: via 3 small cuts, the hernia is approached from behind the muscle, and a mesh placed. Keyhole surgery is especially useful if the hernia has returned after a previous repair, or if the hernia is present on both sides.

Inguinal hernias can be repaired under a local or a general anaesthetic, and the patient is usually discharged on the day of surgery. Patients are encouraged to get up and about as soon as possible, and to carry out normal every day activities straight away. For the first 2 weeks you should not lift anything heavy or do any strenuous activity. In the 3rd and 4th weeks following surgery you can gradually get back to your normal physical activities. You can drive when you feel confident that you can safely perform an "emergency stop". This is usually between 7 and 10 days. You can return to work when you feel able to. This may be in as little as 5 days but often is longer at 14 to 21 days.

You will be reviewed once after the operation at about 4 weeks.

Other abdominal wall hernias

Femoral hernias also occur in the groin, and are commoner in women than men. Hernias through the belly button (umbilical) and above the belly button (epigastric) hernias are usually straightforward to repair. Depending on the size, they can be repaired either under local or general anaesthesia. Small hernias are often closed by simply suturing the hole closed, although larger hernias may require a mesh to be placed.

Incisional hernias (a hernia at the site of a previous abdominal operation) can be simple to repair if small, but larger and more complicated hernias can require major operations, either with open or keyhole surgery depending on the nature of the hernia.

Download PDF on Inguinal Hernia Repair