Your questions answered

Hernias of the abdominal wall, and especially groin hernias in men, are one of the most common surgical conditions. However, hernias can also affect women and occur in locations other than the groin. Umbilical hernias (a lump in the belly button), or incisional hernias (a lump at the site of a previous surgical incision scar) are also common.

What is a hernia?

Hernias are protrusions of tissue through a gap in the muscle or tissue barrier. The body has natural weak spots where hernias typically occur. One such spot in men is where the spermatic cord runs from the testicles through the groin area and into the abdomen, which explains the frequency of groin hernias in male patients.

As well as umbilical and incisional hernias, other naturally occurring weak spots are in the femoral canal, where the vessels of the legs pass through the front of the thigh, (femoral hernia); an area on the side of the abdominal wall where different muscles meet (spighelian hernia), and the midline of the upper abdomen (epigastric hernia).

Are hernias dangerous?

Most hernias do not pose an immediate danger. However, hernias can be uncomfortable and have a tendency to become bigger over time.

The main risk of an abdominal wall hernia is that part of your bowel can slip through the gap, causing severe discomfort, blockage of the intestines and, in extreme cases, strangulation of the bowel, leading to severe sepsis. If untreated, this could become life-threatening.

Our aim, through elective surgery, is to treat symptoms early and prevent any chance of complications.

Is a lump always a hernia?

No. Lumps can be symptomatic of other conditions. In the groin, for example, enlarged lymph nodes can sometimes look like a hernia, however most of the time these won’t require surgery.

A bulge in the midline can also be the result of weakened connective tissue rather than a gap in the wall. This is known as rectus diastasis and is common after pregnancy.

When should I see a doctor?

If you notice any new lumps in your groin or in other parts of your abdominal wall, you should seek medical advice. Often a simple examination by an experienced surgeon is all you’ll need to get a diagnosis.

In some cases, you might need an ultrasound scan to clarify the diagnosis. Further scans, such as CT or MRI scans are very rarely required.

Is surgery always necessary?

The short answer is yes. If left untreated, hernias can pose a significant risk to your health and wellbeing. There are a few exceptions, for example, for those patients who have other severe health problems that prevent them from having an anaesthetic.

Why robotic surgery?

At CRSC, our unique expertise in robotic surgery means we’re able to treat a wide range of hernias using keyhole surgery, including many that would, typically, be the domain of open surgery.

The benefits of robotic surgery over open surgery, particularly with larger, or more complex hernias, are staggering.

Where a patient could expect a stay in hospital of 7-10 days for a large hernia, followed by several weeks’ recovery at home, our target is to have all hernia patients discharged within one day following surgery.

We achieve this goal in over 95% of cases.

There are also significant cosmetic benefits, as we usually use just three small incisions (8mm), even for procedures on larger hernias.

This is all in addition to an increasing body of evidence to support the safety and efficacy of robotic hernia surgery.


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After the operation

As mentioned, we’ll aim to have you at home the day after your procedure. We’ll make sure you’re able to move freely and carry out all your essential daily tasks, so that your return will be as comfortable as possible.

We’ll give you appropriate pain management and a detailed exercise plan highlighting the kinds of exercise you can do, and how often you should do them. We’ll stay in touch throughout your recovery and will invite you back to the clinic to assess your progress.

Book an appointment

To book a consultation with The Colorectal & Robotic Surgery Centre, you can phone, email or use our “contact us” form.

Email: crsc@hcahealthcare.co.uk

Call:  +44 20 3214 3440
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