Hernia is a protrusion of body organ through a weak area or a natural orifice through which it does not pass ordinarily.
Usually the term hernia mean abdominal wall hernia. It occurs due to a weakness in abdominal wall. It may be congenital (by birth) or acquired.
Swelling or a bulge is noticed when patient strains or stands. Some hernias cause pain or some do not cause any pain. First sign may be a bulge. You may have discomfort or dragging pain.
What causes hernia?
The common causes are:
- Straining while defecating as in chronic constipation
- Excessive coughing
- Over strenuous exercises
- Smoking causes coughing and deficiency of collagen tissue which causes weakness of abdominal wall
Why is hernia surgery required?
Hernia causes pain and discomfort & can cause dangerous complication such as intestinal obstruction, strangulation (hampering of blood supply) and gangrene (tissue death) which are life threatening conditions. It never gets cured itself.
Hernia operation is essentially done to:
- Replace the protruded organ back to the abdominal cavity.
- Repair the weak area of abdominal wall through which protrusion occurs.
Usually the hernia operation is performed by either of the two following techniques
- Open Tension-free Hernia Repair: A prosthesis such as polypropylene mesh is introduced from outside to cover the defect. Open operation may be done under local anaesthesia.
- Laparoscopic Hernia Repair: A prosthesis such as polypropylene mesh is use to cover the defect through abdominal cavity. Laparoscopic hernia repair is under general anaesthesia. Nowadays local anaesthesia used is long acting, so the effect lasts for 4 to 6 hours. The patient walks out of operation theatre and is soon discharged.
If I do not go for hernia surgery, then can it cause any harm?
Usually hernia is a reducible bulge and goes back to abdomen on lying or on manipulation. Hernia can lead to the following complications:
- Irreducibility- Hernia cannot be pushed back into the abdomen.
- Obstruction – Intestine in hernia is blocked.
- Incarceration – hernia is painful and not reducible.
- Strangulation – pain, vomiting and inability to pass flatus and stool develops. Blood supply of the intestine is cut off.
- The intestine loop dies. It is dangerous and life threatening condition