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FAQs - Hernias
What is a hernia?

A hernia occurs when a structure moves from one cavity to another site, which is abnormal.

How is a hernia diagnosed?

Patients often complain that they have an intermittent lump which either reduces spontaneously or may have to be pushed back gently.  Usually they are found on examination, but an ultrasound scan can help in the differential diagnosis

Why have I developed a hernia?

Hernias develop at sites of weakness in either the groin, abdominal wall or diaphragm and any activity which increases the pressure in the abdominal wall such as heavy lifting, prolonged coughing or straining can precipitate hernia formation.  Certain types of hernias occur if patients have a family history.

Do I need to have the hernia repaired?

Increasingly hernia repair is recommended, particularly groin hernias, as often they increase in size and cause more complications as they do so.  Hernia repair can often be carried out via keyhole surgery and the recovery is very quick and patients resume normal activities within one to two weeks.

Is my hernia an urgent matter?

If a hernia becomes tender and presents with a painful and tense lump, this can suggest that the hernia is strangulated, and if this is the case then emergency medical treatment and operation is required.

How should it be repaired?

Most hernias are now repaired using prosthetic mesh and this certainly reduces pain and speeds up recovery.  The vast majority of hernias are now repaired with keyhole surgery.  The British Hernia Society recommends that patients with groin hernias should undergo hernia repair.  Ideally this should be carried out by an experienced practitioner in laparoscopic (keyhole) hernia repair.  This is often performed as a daycase under general anaesthetic.

What are the complications of hernia repair?

The vast majority of patients undergo surgery without complication and with minimal discomfort.  Occasionally superficial infection can affect the wound and occasionally bleeding or bruising can be troublesome.  Very occasionally the blood supply to the testicle can be damaged and a very small proportion of patients have long-term groin pain following hernia repair, although this is much reduced with the laparoscopic (keyhole) approach.

What can I do immediately after surgery?

The mesh inserted in the groin usually takes a couple of weeks to incorporate with the surrounding tissues and in this time simple painkillers should be taken.  Ordinarily the incisions are closed with an absorbable stitch and glue, and patients can bath or shower immediately after surgery.

What is the recovery time after surgery?

Normal activities can be resumed after two weeks, including a return to work.  During this time, the incisions may become uncomfortable or maybe even painful, but this should settle with simple painkillers.  After a month most patients are more or less back to normal.

When can I drive after surgery?

You can drive when you can perform an emergency stop without hesitating because of pain or discomfort.  It is important that you check with your insurance company for advice, but if the patient is pain free then driving should be fine.

Will I have any restriction to my activities?

Most patients return to a full and active life following hernia repair including sport and lifting.

How long am I in hospital?

The procedure will be performed as a daycase (meaning you will be able to go home the same day) or with a one night stay.