One of the more common conditions treated by NCMA’s General Surgery physicians involves hernia repair surgery using laparoscopic surgery. While the national statics indicate most people wait to treat a new hernia, best outcomes among NCMA patients occur for those who seek treatment sooner rather than later.
Hernia repairs have always been common and routine surgical procedures and technologies to treat hernias have advanced as a result. Information provided by the National Center for Health Statistics indicates that more than five million Americans currently suffer from a hernia – and three million new cases are reported annually. While the only effective treatment for a hernia is surgery, only about 750,000 Americans will actually seek treatment.
What is a Laparoscopic Procedure?
A laparoscopic or ‘minimally invasive’ surgical procedure is a technologically advanced option to traditional or open surgery – giving patients the opportunity to enjoy a quicker recovery. Laparoscopic surgery makes it possible to treat conditions like hernias using very small incisions, usually only millimeters in length. The general surgery physician then incorporates the use of specialized surgical instruments including a laparoscope – or a fiber-optic instrument – that is inserted in the abdominal wall. This device transmits images to a video monitor, allowing the surgeon to see the operative area on the screen.
“The minimally invasive approach to hernia repair is preferable to open surgery,” said NCMA General & Laparoscopic Surgeon, Allen W. Cortez, MD. “A hernia can be painful, unsightly and if left untreated can cause life threatening complications. I recommend that patients with hernia symptoms seek treatment sooner, rather than taking the wait-and-see approach.”
The minimally invasive approach to hernia surgery makes it possible for patients to be treated on an outpatient basis using local or epidural anesthesia rather than general anesthesia – expediting the recovery process. Surgery can take less than 45 minutes to complete and patients usually go home within a few hours of surgery, and are able to return to normal activities in only a few days.
What causes a hernia?
Hernias are generally caused by a weakness in the abdominal wall or groin area, and there are many causes for a hernia, including:
• chronic coughing
• lifting heavy weight
• sudden weight gain
Hernias can also be congenital in nature, and those usually involve the belly button or appear as umbilical hernias, groin or inguinal hernias. Patients are especially susceptible to hernias following abdominal surgery which can weaken the tissue surrounding abdominal muscles, leading to a breach or separation. Women who undergo C-sections or hysterectomies, or men who have abdominal surgeries are most susceptible.
If left untreated, hernias can become so advanced that they require emergency surgery. A hernia becomes a particularly serious issue when it protrudes to the point that it cannot be pushed back into the abdomen or groin.
When to Consult a Physician
Patients need to seek treatment any time a newly discovered lump in the abdominal wall or groin area appears. These types of symptoms are also accompanied by pain and obvious swelling. “Patients who opt to wait to see a physician risk the hernia becoming larger which can be more difficult to repair,” explains Dr. Cortex. “If we can catch it in the early stages, it’s a much less involved surgery, but if it becomes larger and protrudes through the intestinal wall even more, complications are possible.”
NCMA’s General Surgery Team treat and manage a full spectrum of surgical procedures. In addition to general surgery services, physicians also have expertise, special interest and experience in the following areas: colon and rectal surgery, endocrine surgery, surgical oncology, trauma surgery and vascular surgery. For more information visit our website or call (707) 579-2100.