What is a Hernia?

Hernias are common. They can affect men, women and children. Usually, there is no obvious cause for a hernia. A combination of muscle weakness and straining, such as heavy lifting, may cause hernias. Some people are born with hernias or with weak abdominal muscles. Some people have a family history of hernia.

Physical activities and medical problems that increase pressure on the belly may lead to a hernia, including: constipation, chronic cough, cystic fibrosis, enlarged prostate, extra weight, fluid in the abdomen, heavy lifting, poor nutrition, smoking, and undescended testicles.

There are usually no symptoms for a hernia. However, you may feel pain while standing or straining when using the bathroom or lifting heavy objects.


The Surgery: Hernia Repair Surgery

Your doctor may suggest lifestyle changes to ease your symptoms, but surgery is considered the only way to permanently fix a hernia.  If a child has an umbilical hernia that does not heal on its own by age 5, his/her doctor may recommend surgery. Keep in mind, all surgeries have risks and surgery may be riskier for patients with serious medical problems.

During a hernia repair surgery, the weakened abdominal wall tissue is secured and any holes are closed up.


Hernia repair can be performed using traditional open surgery or minimally invasive surgery. With open surgery, doctors make a long incision in the abdomen. The incision must be large enough for the surgeon to fit his/her hands and surgical instruments inside the abdomen. Open surgery allows doctors to see and touch your organs and tissue while operating. Minimally invasive surgery (laparoscopy) is done through a few small incisions using long, thin surgical instruments and a tiny camera. The camera takes images inside your body. The images are sent to a video monitor in the operating room which guides surgeons as they operate.


Risks & Considerations Related to Hernia Surgery & da Vinci Surgery

Potential risks of any a hernia procedure may include:

  • Bowel obstruction
  • Hernia
  • Urinary retention
  • Recurrence of incisional hernias are more likely

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