A hernia happens when an organ (e.g. the intestines) pushes through an opening in the muscle that keeps it in place (e.g. the abdominal wall). The most common type is an inguinal hernia, which occurs when the intestines push through the inguinal canal in the lower abdomen. Left untreated, a hernia can progress to become more painful and dangerous, even become life-threatening.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Diagnosis of a hernia is relatively simple; it can be performed through a physical exam, barium X-ray, or endoscopy. Treatment can vary from simple dietary changes and prescription medication (often applicable only for a hiatal hernia where the stomach protrudes through the diaphragm) to open or laparoscopic surgery.
However, when non-invasive methods do not work (e.g. when a person has an inguinal hernia), surgery is the only way to correct it. When caught early, doctors often recommend laparoscopic hernia repair because it is minimally invasive and has a shorter recovery time. However, this type of treatment is not suitable for a hernia in advanced stages.
Preparing for Laparoscopic Surgery
When preparing for laparoscopic surgery, it is important to inform one’s doctor of present and past medical history, including what medication or vitamin and dietary supplements one is currently taking. It is also important for a doctor to know whether or not a patient is pregnant.
In the days leading up to the surgery, a doctor may prescribe anticoagulants and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. He may also order a blood test, urinalysis, electrocardiogram, chest X-ray, ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI. These tests will help the doctor further understand the patient’s current state and reduce complications during the procedure itself.
After the Surgery
After the procedure, the patient will need to stay under observation for several hours to ensure that vital signs are stable and that there are no adverse effects. How long it takes till a patient is discharged depends on the patient’s overall physical condition, the type of anesthesia used, and how the body reacted to the surgery. Often, the patient would be able to go home during the day, but in some cases, the patient may have to stay overnight.
In the week after the surgery, the patient may feel pain in the areas where incisions were made. There may also be bloating and pain in the shoulder—these are caused by the carbon dioxide used during the procedure. Fortunately, these effects fade within a few days. Normal activities may resume after about a week.