The most common and effective treatment for hernia is surgery. This article provides some information about the different options for treating hernias.
There are some cavities in the human body, like the thoracic cavity, abdominal cavity, and pelvic cavity. These cavities house some of the vital organs. For example, thoracic cavity houses lungs and the heart. Abdominal cavity contains the stomach, liver, spleen, intestines, and gallbladder. When any of these organs that are located inside the cavity, protrudes through a weak spot on the wall that covers the cavity, then the condition is called hernia. While a hernia can develop in any of these body cavities, the most commonly affected location is the abdominal cavity. Though hernias can appear in other locations, the term is mainly used to denote those in the abdominal cavity.
Abdominal hernias can be of different types, like inguinal, femoral, umbilical, incisional, obturator, epigastric, and spigelian. Among them, inguinal hernias account for around 75% of all abdominal hernias. An inguinal hernia refers to the protrusion that occurs in the groin area, where the thigh meets the torso. Femoral hernias appear in locations near the inguinal region. Umbilical hernias are mostly found in newborns, and as the name suggests, the most common location for the protrusion is the belly button. Hernia may also appear on sites, where incisions have been made for surgical purposes. Such hernias are called incisional hernias.
During the initial stages, the hernia usually appears as a very small swelling. Gradually, it develops in size; and if left untreated, it may cause some complications. One such condition is incarceration, wherein the protruding part gets strangulated, thereby blocking the blood supply to this portion. An incarcerated hernia can be an emergency condition that requires immediate surgery. Causes of hernia include heredity, chronic lung disease, obesity, accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity, cough, and straining during bowel movements.
In general, hernia treatment depends on the type and size of the opening in the abdominal wall and the health condition of the affected person. While surgery is the ultimate treatment option for people with hernia, in some cases, it is not considered ideal. It has been observed that most of the irreducible hernias (that cannot be pushed back into place) require surgery. Reducible hernias (that can be pushed back into place) may sometimes be exempted from surgery.
Non-Surgical Treatment: In some cases, surgery is not preferred, and this applies mainly to the reducible hernias. Doctors adopt a wait and watch policy, if it is unsafe for the affected person to undergo a surgery for hernia repair. Surgery is not recommended for a small hernia that do not cause any pain or discomfort. Surgery is not considered a feasible option, when the opening of the hernia is very large. Even the risk of strangulation is minimum in such cases. In such cases, the patients are advised to use abdominal binders or trusses. These special belts prevent further bulging of the hernia. However, the use of binders is discouraged by some health experts. According to them, these belts cause formation of scar tissues in the area, which can affect surgery that may be required at a later stage.
Surgical Treatment: As mentioned earlier, the ultimate hernia treatment is surgery. This is recommended for both reducible and irreducible hernias; but in case of the latter, surgery has to be done at the earliest, so as to avoid strangulation. Hernia surgery can be either open or laparoscopic. In some cases, open surgery is the only way to repair the hernia. It has also been observed that some of the laparoscopic hernia surgeries are converted to open ones, when the surgeon finds it difficult to repair the hernia through the former procedure.
In case of a laparoscopic hernia repair, two small incisions are made near the hernia. A small tube with a camera on its end is inserted through one incision, and the surgical instruments are inserted through the other. The surgeon will get a good view of the surgical site from the images displayed on the monitor. The protruded parts are moved to their original place and the opening in the abdominal wall is sutured with a synthetic mesh that prevents further protrusion. In case of an open surgery, the procedure is done through a long cut made on the abdominal wall. So, an open surgery causes scarring, which is minimal in laparoscopic surgery. Even the recovery time may be longer in an open surgery, which requires the patient to stay in hospital for several days. Hernia treatment cost also varies with the mode of treatment.
In short, treatment for hernia is decided on the basis of the nature and type of hernia, and the health condition of the patient. However, surgery is considered better, to avoid complications. It will be advisable to discuss the treatment options with your doctor, to get a clear idea about the various aspects of hernia treatment.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.