While we hope that none of you have experienced a hernia first hand, for those who have, bear with us while we try and explain them to the more fortunate. A hernia is a condition in which part of an organ is displaced and protrudes through the wall of the cavity containing it (often involving the intestine at a weak point in the abdominal wall). Many hernias are in the lower abdomen, also called the inguinal or groin region.
Igenuinal hernias are most common in men, and according to the National Institutes of Health, about 25 percent of men will develop one in their lifetime. Surgery is the only method used to repair this type of a hernia, which if left untreated can cause pain and possibly life-threatening complications. Thankfully, at the University Medical Centre of Princeton, robotic-assisted surgery is helping patients with inguinal hernia return to their normal, active lives more quickly than ever.
There are several different types of hernias that can occur, however, inguinal hernias are among the most common and typically are associated with a telltale bulge on one or both sides of the groin. Symptoms include pain or discomfort in the groin, especially when lifting, coughing, exercising or training, feelings of weakness, heaviness, burning or aching in the groin and a swollen or an enlarged scrotum in men or boys.
Hernia repair is one of the most common surgical procedures in the United States and thanks to robotic-assisted surgery, it is also becoming one of the most efficient.
According to Dr. Nisha Dhir, M.D., “At UMCP, surgeons are using the da Vinci Xi Surgical System to repair inguinal and Hiatal hernias. The da Vinci system enables surgeons to operate through quarter inch incisions with dramatically enhanced vision, precision, and control.
“Traditional open surgery for hernia repair involves large incisions and often results in pain, a longer recovery time, and risk of infection. Patients who undergo traditional open surgery for hernia repair are usually advised to wait up to six weeks before resuming strenuous activities and are often prescribed narcotic pain medication.
“With da Vinci surgery, most patients resume normal activities within a week and can manage their pain with over-the-counter medications.”
While not all hernias can be prevented, there are steps that can be taken to reduce a person’s risk of developing one, and in turn, surgery. Maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, practicing proper lifting techniques, and eating a healthy and fiber-rich diet are all ways that you can help prevent the development of a hernia. As the timeless adage goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”