What is a hernia?

A hernia occurs when there is a weakness or defects in the anterior abdominal wall or groin region. A hernia occurs most commonly on the abdominal wall, although it can also occur in other areas of the body, including the belly button, groin and upper thigh.

There are a number of types of hernias, which can be caused by a number of factors. These include weak muscles, caused by an injury, congenital defect, or ageing; or strained muscles caused by factors like pregnancy, chronic constipation, heavy lifting or fluid in the abdomen.

Some common symptoms include pain in the lower abdomen, the appearance of a bulge, acid reflux, and chest pain.

How is a hernia repair performed?

Although hernias do not always need to be surgically repaired, the surgeon may recommend the procedure if you are experiencing pain and discomfort. The procedure may also be necessary in cases where the hernia is becoming larger; if the hernia becomes strangulated; or if tissue becomes trapped in the abdominal wall as a result of a hernia.

A hernia can be repaired in two ways:

Laparoscopic surgery

During this procedure, the abdomen is inflated with gas to allow for better visualisation of the area. The surgeon will make tiny incisions near the hernia through which small surgical tools as well as a laparoscope with a camera attached are inserted. Images are transmitted from the camera to a monitor, allowing your surgeon to repair the hernia with minimal damage to the surrounding tissue. The hernia will always be repaired with a mesh, with some exceptions.

Open surgery

In some cases, laparoscopic surgery is not possible, in which case traditional open surgery is recommended. During open surgery, an incision is made overlying the hernia and the hernia is pushed back into place. After the content of the hernia is reduced, the weakness or defect is repaired with mesh reinforcement.