Hernia Repair

Surgery has generally been recommended for all hernias to avoid complications such as strangulation, in which a loop of intestine becomes tightly trapped in a hernia, cutting off the blood supply to that part of the intestine. But surgery may not be needed if the hernia is small and you do not have symptoms. Consult with your doctor to decide if you need hernia repair surgery.

If a hernia in an adult can be pushed back (reduced), surgery can be done at the person’s convenience. If it cannot be pushed back, surgery must be done sooner. The use of synthetic patches or mesh for hernia repair is the standard for adult surgery. The mesh or patch is used to strengthen the abdominal wall and prevent hernias from recurring. Previously, these were used mostly for hernias that were large or hard to repair.

During surgery, the hernia sac is removed and occasionally a couple of stitches are used to close the opening of the inguinal canal nearest the abdominal cavity (internal ring). Most hernia repairs are done as outpatient surgery. Anesthesia can be local, spinal, or general. The risk of a hernia coming back after surgery varies depending on a surgeon’s experience, the type of hernia, if mesh is used, and the person’s age and overall health.

The chance of a hernia coming back after surgery ranges from 1 to 10 out of 100 surgeries done. Recurrence rates after hernia repair are lower when experienced surgeons perform the procedure, especially for laparoscopic techniques.