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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a hernia?

A hernia is a defect in one or more layers of the abdominal wall which allows fat, intestines or both to protrude. Some areas of the abdominal wall are more prone than others to developing a hernia defect. What are the most common sites to develop a hernia? The most common sites of hernia development include the groin area, also known as inguinal hernias. Also, the belly button or umbilical hernia is quite common. Areas of previous surgery are also more likely to develop a hernia defect. These are known as incisional hernias.

Do all hernias need to be surgically repaired?

As stated above, hernias are abnormal defects in the abdominal wall and will not get better by themselves. Most patients that visit the surgeon have some symptoms associated with their hernia such as pain, bulging, interference with exercise, and, in severe cases, entrapment (also known as incarceration). When symptoms are present, it is advisable to have the hernia repaired.

What is the difference between incarceration and strangulation?

Incarceration means that the hernia contents are stuck in the out position and can’t be reduced or pushed back in. Strangulation always includes incarceration, but now, the contents of the hernia are not receiving adequate blood supply and this is a true surgical emergency.

What techniques are available to repair a hernia?

Hernia repair has been around for many, many years dating back to the time of the Romans. Modern hernia repair, however, takes a different approach, using new and improved techniques than hernia repairs done as recently as 10 years ago. Today’s hernia repair places emphasis on being minimally invasive, tension free and using the highest quality bio-synthetic materials.

Open style hernia repair:

Open or traditional hernia repair uses an incision to get to and directly repair the hernia. It is a time proven approach that is still the most commonly used way of having a hernia repaired. It is used in all types of hernia repair, including inguinal, umbilical and incisional. The key in achieving the best results for patients undergoing open hernia repair is choosing an experienced surgeon with a reputation for having excellent surgical skill and one who is willing to explain details of the planned procedure so that there are no unanswered questions prior to surgery.

Laparoscopic hernia repair:

Laparoscopy is a minimally invasive technique that has recently (in the past 10 years) come into vogue and has dramatically changed the approach to certain types of hernia repair. It is not the answer to all types of hernias and its application must be chosen wisely. It allows for complete abdominal wall repair and reinforcement with virtually no incision and with a very low incidence of hernia recurrence. Laparoscopic hernia repair is not right for everyone. Only an experienced laparoscopic hernia repair surgeon can determine if it is right for you.