Inguinal or groin hernias can develop in infancy through adulthood. Some people relate inguinal hernias to heavy lifting or strenuous activity. These types of hernias can be associated with pain when accompanied by an acute injury. However, most inguinal hernias are not painful. People describe discomfort and bulging more than anything else.
Many inguinal hernias cause discomfort with activity. Increased abdominal pressure associated with heavy lifting or exercise usually causes the hernia to bulge. This puts pressure on the surrounding tissues causing discomfort and sometimes pain. When associated with a sports related injury, these hernias can be known as sports hernias.
Over time, gravity causes inguinal hernias to enlarge and descend. In men, if the hernia has been evident for a while, it can begin to take up space in the scrotum. This is sometimes referred to as a scrotal hernia.
Inguinal hernia repair has changed dramatically since the late 1980’s when the concept of a tension-free repair was introduced. In the beginning, it was discovered that a tension free repair was less likely to fail when compared to a repair which put tension on the tissues. The use of mesh was introduced in the first Lichtenstein repair in 1985, and subsequent variations of the same technique have been developed and refined. Today, the use of sophisticated bio-prosthetic materials makes hernia repair safer and more comfortable than ever before.
More recently, the use of laparoscopy has revolutionized inguinal hernia repair. The laparoscopic approach uses a minimally invasive technique to perform a tension free hernia repair without the traditional inguinal incision. The layers of the abdominal wall are separated using a sophisticated dissecting balloon positioned at the site of the hernia defect. Once separated, the abdominal wall layers are reinforced by placing a contoured mesh patch at the defect. The hernia is effectively eliminated with much less pain, less swelling, less time out of work and a quicker return to activity and exercise.
As with any type of surgical procedure, evaluation by a Board certified surgeon is mandatory. At the Winter Park Hernia Center, the exact approach is tailored to each and every patient, taking into consideration body habitus, the type of hernia, past medical and surgical history, and physical limitations of the patient.