A hernia occurs when the inside layers of the abdominal wall weaken then bulge or tear. The inner lining of the abdomen pushes through the weakened area to form a balloon-like sac. This, in turn, can cause a loop of intestine or abdominal tissue to slip into the sac, causing severe pain and other potentially serious health problems.
Men and women of all ages can have hernias. Hernias usually occur either because of a natural weakness in the abdominal wall or from excessive strain on the abdominal wall such as strain from heavy lifting, substantial weight gain, persistent coughing, or difficulty with bowel movements or urination. Eighty percent of all hernias are located near the groin. Hernias might also be found below the groin (femoral), through the navel (umbilical), and along a previous incision (incisional).
Laparoscopic surgery uses a thin, telescope-like instrument known as a laparoscope that is inserted through a small incision at the umbilicus (belly button). Usually, this procedure is performed under general anesthesia. This requires an evaluation of your general state of health, including a history and physical exam, possibly including lab work and EKG.
You will not feel pain during this surgery. The laparoscope is connected to a tiny video camera, smaller than a dime, which projects an "inside view" of the patient's body onto television screens in the operating room. The abdomen is inflated with a harmless gas (carbon dioxide) to allow your doctor to view your internal structures. The peritoneum (the inner lining of your abdomen) is cut to expose the weakness in the abdominal wall. A mesh patch is attached to secure the weak area under the peritoneum. The peritoneum is then stapled or sutured closed. Following the procedure, the small abdominal incisions are closed with a stitch or two, or with surgical tape. Within a few months, the incision are barely visible.
It is important to follow your doctor's instructions after surgery. Many people feel better in just a few days. However, you might need to take it easy for a week or two.
This procedure is as safe as open surgery, in carefully selected cases, when performed by specialists in this field.
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