Do hernias require surgery?

Most doctors believe hernias need intervention, normally by surgery. However, there is some evidence (www.clinicalevidence.bmj.com) that hernias with no or little symptoms may be managed by watchful waiting. If these hernias become symptomatic, they should be repaired.
For most groin hernias surgery is the treatment of choice; this is the most common general surgical operation and all general surgeons are experienced in the repair of inguinal hernias. About 5% of hernias require emergency surgery because they become irreducible or strangulated.  the hernia lose their blood supply, which can be very dangerous.

How is the surgery performed?

Surgery is the treatment of choice. In adults this is normally achieved by either an open approach or via a laparoscopic approach (keyhole). In both methods the hernia is repaired and normally reinforced with a “mesh”. This mesh is a man-made material that is normally permanent and allows a “tension-free” repair with a much lower incidence of recurrence of the hernia. For children and young adults a mesh is not necessary.

What are the benefits of surgery?

Once hernia surgery is performed the bulge should disappear. The pain or discomfort should also go once you’ve healed after the surgery.
The advantages of keyhole surgery are that there is less pain and a lower chance of numbness. The pain following the procedure should also last for a shorter time. But about 10% of patients still have some pain at one year after keyhole surgery; for open surgery this is 20%.

What are the risks of surgery?

All operations carry risks. These should be discussed with you as apart of the informed consent process.
  • Nausea (feeling sick) can occur after anaesthesia. Serious complications from anaesthesia are rare.
  • Bleeding and bruising after hernia surgery occurs in about 10% of patients. This can lead to a large bruise called a haematoma. Sometimes there is a build-up of fluid under the skin called a seroma (in about 5% of patients).
  • Accidental damage to other organs such as the bladder is rare in open surgery but can occur in some forms of keyhole repair. This may require further surgery to correct this. Nerve damage may cause numbness or pain
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