Abdominal Wall Hernia Repair

A Hernia of the abdominal wall can occur in the following sites:

  • Inguinal (groin)
  • Femoral (junction of groin and upper thigh)
  • Epigastric (central upper abdomen)
  • Umbilical (at umbilicus/belly-button)
  • Hiatus (oesophageal)
  • Incisional (site of previous incision/operation)

Hernia repair should be considered once diagnosed as hernias will all slowly enlarge, with an increasing the risk of bowel or fat becoming entangled within the hernia. This results in pain, a lump and eventually will cut off blood supply to the bowel or fat within the hernia.

Each hernia repair is different and tailored the situation but can be as little as an outpatient surgery with no overnight stay or as large as a week or longer stay in hospital. The operation may be performed as an “open” or “keyhole” (laparoscopic) surgery depending on the circumstance.

Smaller hernias are relatively simple to repair. Repair involves moving the contents of the hernia back to where it would normally lie, and closing the hernia orifice (hole). This can be done with sutures (stitches), but hernias are now also repaired with ‘mesh’ to cover the gap in the muscles of the abdominal wall. The mesh repair is much less likely to break down and so the hernia is less likely to recur. The larger that hernias become, the more involved the surgery (and hence recovery), another reason to attempt earlier repair where possible.