Inguinal hernias are the most common types of hernia and occur in the groin. They can be the result of a defect from birth or due to a weakness developing over time. They are best described as a swelling in the groin area, which is more prominent on standing or straining. The hernias usually disappear on lying down.
Hernias, which do not cause symptoms, do not always need to be fixed. However, in younger patients it is likely they will become symptomatic with time.
In larger hernias, the swelling may contain bowel. There is a small risk of part of the bowel becoming trapped or damaged within the hernia. In males, the hernia can extend into the scrotum. Large hernias should be repaired and if very symptomatic should be fixed urgently.
Surgical Hernia Repair
Repair involves using a synthetic mesh to reinforce the tissues. This can be done with either open or keyhole surgery depending on the size, type and location of the defect. Patients with hernias on both sides will be preferentially fixed with keyhole surgery.
Laparoscopic (keyhole) repair – Three small cuts are made in the abdominal wall to allow the passage of the instruments. The hernia is repaired using synthetic mesh and keyhole fixation devices. The cuts are repaired with dissolvable sutures and a local anaesthetic is given. A waterproof dressing is placed over the sites so you can shower straight away. These should be left for 3 days. On removal if the wound is not dry another dressing should be applied for a few more days.
Open hernia repair – This technique is often used in either very small uncomplicated hernias or in very large defects when the hernia extends into the scrotum. In large hernia repairs, the recovery time can be longer and will be dependent on the type of repair required. Your surgeon will discuss this with you, as it will vary on a case-by-case basis. Again dissolvable sutures are used and a waterproof dressing placed over the wound. For open repair of small hernias there is minimal difference in recovery time from keyhole surgery. A small incision is made and recovery time should be short.