Intermountain Healthcare

What to Know About Hernias and Hernia Repairs


Salt Lake City, UT -- (ReleaseWire) -- 08/22/2021 --A hernia occurs when part of an internal organ or fatty tissue protrudes through a weak area of muscle. Many hernias are in the lower abdomen and are especially common among men. In fact, about 25 percent of men will develop a hernia in their lifetime, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Types of Hernias:

- Congenital hernias include most of the groin hernias and can happen in both men and women.

- Prior surgery can also cause hernias, which are known as "incisional hernias."

- One of the most common types of hernias are umbilical hernias, or hernias of the belly button, which most people know as "outies."

- Hiatal hernias happen when the upper stomach squeezes through an opening in the diaphragm.

Only a small percentage of hernias – about .3% - are actually dangerous. However, hernias are commonly operated on when they become painful. The most common symptoms are pain or pressure in the area of the hernia.

"To alleviate the pain, patients should not delay surgery," said Elizabeth Chabot, MD, Intermountain Healthcare general surgeon. "It may not be an emergency now, but it could become an emergency and we can help you get back to your life free of pain."

What Causes Hernias?
Almost all hernias are caused by a combination of pressure and an opening or weakness of muscle. That pressure can push fatty tissue or an organ through the weak spot or opening.

Hernia's can be present at birth, but more often happens later in life in both men and women.

Anything that increases pressure in the abdomen can cause a hernia, including:

- Persistent sneezing or coughing
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Lifting heavy objects

Hernias are also more likely due to poor nutrition, obesity, and smoking which all can weaken muscles.

How Are Hernias Repaired?

Hernia repair is one of the most common surgical procedures performed in the U.S. with almost one million operations each year.

The type of operation chosen by the surgeon depends upon many factors and is tailored to each specific patient.

Open Surgery: An open procedure surgery is where the surgeon directly repairs the hernia through an incision in the abdominal wall, which is often done when other options aren't available.

Laparoscopy: A laparoscopic technique uses a small incision into which the laparoscope is inserted. The instruments used to repair the hernia are inserted through other small incisions in the lower abdomen. Mesh is then placed over the defect to reinforce the abdomen wall.

This technique is the most commonly used hernia repair procedure at Intermountain Healthcare. The biggest benefit to this technique is reduced pain and faster recover.

Robotic: Surgeons also have the ability now to perform cutting-edge robotic or computer-assisted surgery for hernias. Robotic surgery allows surgeons to repair more complicated hernias, specifically incisional hernias and helps avoid scar tissue.

A robotic-assisted surgery is performed through three to four small incisions. The surgeon uses a highly magnified 3D high-definition viewer to see the surgical areas. The surgeon then moves the robot's four "wristed" instruments through the use of hand and foot controls. The motions are in tandem with the surgeon's hands – allowing for greater dexterity, control, and precision.

Not every patient is eligible for robotic surgery. Surgeons consider candidates based on anatomy, medical history, and a patient's specific condition.

About Intermountain Healthcare
Intermountain Healthcare is a nonprofit system of 25 hospitals, 225 clinics, a Medical Group with 2,600 employed physicians and advanced practice clinicians, a health insurance company called SelectHealth, and other health services in Utah, Idaho, and Nevada. Intermountain is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes and sustainable costs. For more information, see Intermountain Healthcare or the Intermountain Healthcare Blog.