Hernia Treatment

What is a hernia?

Hernias occur when there is an abnormal protrusion of an organ into an area where it usually is not supposed to be. The most common hernia is what is called an inguinal hernia. These are due to a tear or disruption of the strength layer of the abdominal wall in the groin. Normally, the muscles and fascia of the deeper layers of the abdominal wall provides strength and holds the abdominal organs inside. In a hernia, there is essentially a hole in the muscle and fascia layer such that the organs inside the abdominal cavity (such as the intestines) now protrude outwards under the skin. Other hernia types include femoral as well as incisional hernias.

What happens if the hernia is not repaired?

Over time, the hole will enlarge and more of the internal organs will push out and therefore the hernia will become larger. How quickly this happens is unpredictable. As the hernia enlarges, it can become more painful and inconvenient. Many patients with hernias are unable to exercise or may have lots of pain with prolonged standing or walking.

The most concerning aspect of a hernia is the risk of what is called incarceration or strangulation of a hernia. This is when one of the internal organs, such as the intestine, comes through the defect/hole in the abdominal wall and gets trapped or twisted and cannot be reduced/pushed back into the abdominal cavity. If this happens, it can be an emergency. Usually, patients will feel sudden, severe pain at the bulge of the hernia and may feel nauseated or vomit. This needs to be treated within 6 hours or else the portion that is trapped outside may become gangrenous.

How are hernias repaired?

Hernias can only be repaired using surgery. There are no exercises or medications that can be used to close the hole. In the short term, patients with symptoms can purchase a hernia belt to try to hold in the hernia and prevent symptoms.

Surgery involves reducing all of the organs that have come out back into the abdomen and then repairing the hole by placing a mesh made of a plastic polymer to patch the whole. The surgery can be done using either a small 5 to 7cm incision in the traditional way or via 3 small openings using a laparoscopic technique. Surgery usually is requires under one hour and patients may go home the same day.

If you have a hernia, Pacific Executive Health can arrange a rapid assessment with Dr. Emile Woo. We also have access to private surgical facilities so that you will not have to wait for months to have your hernia repaired while you are suffering from pain and unable enjoy the activities you want to do. Dr. Woo has performed thousands of hernia surgeries and can perform both traditional open surgery as well as advanced Laparoscopic surgery.