The Condition: Hernias

A hernia happens when part of an internal organ or tissue bulges through a hole or weak area in the belly wall (fascia). The type of hernia you have depends on where it is and how it occurs:

• Ventral (incisional) hernias can occur through a scar after surgery in the abdomen.

• Umbilical hernia appears as a bulge around the belly button

• Inguinal hernia is a bulge in the groin (more common in men). Hernias are common. They can affect men, women and children. Usually, there is no obvious cause for a hernia. A combination of muscle weakness and straining, such as heavy lifting, may cause hernias. Some people are born with hernias or with weak abdominal muscles. Some people have a family history of hernia.

 Physical activities and medical problems that increase pressure on the belly may lead to a hernia, including: constipation, chronic cough, cystic fibrosis, enlarged prostate, extra weight, fluid in the abdomen, heavy lifting, poor nutrition, smoking, and undescended testicles. There are usually no symptoms for a hernia. However, you may feel pain while standing or straining when using the bathroom or lifting heavy objects.

The Surgery: Hernia Repair Surgery

Your doctor may suggest lifestyle changes to ease your symptoms, but surgery is considered the only way to permanently fix a hernia. Keep in mind, all surgeries have risks and surgery may be riskier for patients with serious medical problems.

 During a hernia repair surgery, the weakened abdominal wall tissue is secured and any holes are closed up.

 Cross Section of a Ventral Hernia                                                                                                          Cross Section of Repaired Hernia

Hernia repair can be performed using traditional open surgery or minimally invasive surgery. With open surgery, doctors make a long incision in the abdomen. The incision must be large enough for the surgeon to fit his/her hands and surgical instruments inside the abdomen. Open surgery allows doctors to see and touch your organs and tissue while operating. Minimally invasive surgery (laparoscopy) is done through a few small incisions using long, thin surgical instruments and a tiny camera. The camera takes images inside your body. The images are sent to a video monitor in the operating room which guides surgeons as they operate.

 da Vinci Surgery: A Minimally Invasive Surgical Option

State-of-the-art da Vinci Surgery is another minimally invasive surgical option for patients facing abdominal hernia surgery. The da Vinci System features a magnified 3D high-definition vision system and special wristed instruments that bend and rotate far greater than the human wrist. da Vinci enables your doctor to operate with enhanced vision, precision, dexterity and control.
As a result of this technology, da Vinci offers the following potential benefits:

  • Low rate of pain
  • Low rate of recurrence
  • Low conversion rate to open surgery
  • Short hospital stay

Risks & Considerations Related to Abdominal Hernia Surgery & da Vinci Surgery:
Potential risks of any a hernia procedure may include:

  • Bowel obstruction
  • Hernia
  • Urinary retention
  • Recurrence of incisional hernias are more likely