Hernias are one of the most common surgical conditions.
Yet it’s the kind of condition many people will live with and worry about whether to seek specialist advice.
If there’s anything you’re unsure about or have questions about, it’s always best to seek specialist medical advice.
The following are frequently asked questions which may be of benefit to you.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE AN INGUINAL HERNIA?
Inguinal hernias most commonly present as a swelling in the groin and although they are most common in men, women also do develop groin hernias. The swelling usually appears on standing and disappears overnight or when lying down. The swelling typically is due to the intestines protruding through a defect in the abdominal muscles and appearing as a bulge under the skin.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I THINK I HAVE AN INGUINAL HERNIA?
The vast majority of inguinal hernias are painless and so may present little inconvenience. During this period of confinement, it is still important to stay fit and active and so daily walking, running or cycling is still to be encouraged. It is advisable to avoid strenuous activities such as weight lifting as this may exacerbate symptoms from the hernia and possibly encourage the hernia to enlarge or even strangulate.
SHOULD I WORRY IF MY INGUINAL HERNIA CAUSES PAIN?
The main risk of an inguinal hernia is that of strangulation when the bowel becomes stuck in the abdominal wall defect. This is a rare (1 in 2000 cases) but serious complication. Providing the swelling disappears on lying down then it cannot be strangulated. If the hernia is becoming more uncomfortable then this is often due to the fact that it is enlarging. If the hernia which was previously reducible, suddenly becomes persistently present and tender to the touch, this suggests the possibility of strangulation (when the blood supply to the bowel is reduced) and requires surgery as an emergency.
I HAVE HEARD THAT I CAN WEAR A TRUSS, IS THIS AN OPTION?
Abdominal supports can provide temporary relief from groin discomfort but are not a long term alternative to surgery.
DO I HAVE TO HAVE THE REPAIR USING MESH?
The recommended repair in most parts of the world is with the use of mesh as this provides an excellent repair with a low recurrence rate. For patients who do not like the idea of a mesh being inserted, a repair with stitches (sutured repair) can be undertaken.
I HAVE SEVERAL MEDICAL PROBLEMS AND AM WORRIED ABOUT HAVING AN ANAESTHETIC.
Inguinal hernias can be repaired under local anaesthesia very safely. It is rare to be turned down for hernia surgery on the grounds of having other medical conditions.
IF I HAVE TO WAIT TO HAVE MY HERNIA REPAIRED, WILL IT CAUSE PROBLEMS?
Waiting a few months to have a hernia repair is unlikely to cause any problems. If the wait is prolonged and the hernia enlarges into the scrotum, this could theoretically result in a higher postoperative complication rate such as significant bruising or recurrence and so it is preferable to have your hernia repaired before it reaches that stage. Hernias tend to enlarge over a period of a year or two rather than over weeks or months.