A hernia is essentially a protrusion of an internal organ or tissue, such as a part of the intestine, through a weakened area in the abdominal wall. Normally, internal organs and tissues are kept in place by the very strong muscles around the abdominal area, but under certain circumstances these walls can weaken.
Possible causes of a hernia are many, varying from congenital factors to a sports injury. However, once hernia-like symptoms are detected, most people visit their doctor right away to get it properly diagnosed. The doctor may run some painless ultrasound tests to confirm the nature and size of the hernia.
Once it is diagnosed, surgery is often recommended. The speed with which the patient must undergo surgery upon diagnosis depends upon various factors, including the degree of immediate danger (if any) that it may pose to internal tissues or the digestive system.
If you are slated to undergo hernia surgery, you probably have heard varying opinions about mesh or no mesh and hernia surgery. Here are 5 points about hernia surgery and the use of mesh that you should know:
1. All types of hernia surgery involve strengthening a muscle wall:
Regardless of the type of hernia surgery that your surgeon carries out for you, it will necessarily involve the repair of a muscle wall – usually that of the abdomen. The protruding tissue is pushed back into the body cavity, and then the wall itself is strengthened in order to keep that tissue inside the body permanently once the surgery is completed.
2. The two main varieties of hernia surgery are laparoscopic and open surgery:
Open surgery is the most traditional variety. It involves the surgeon making a fairly substantial incision in the affected area and entering the body via the incision with regular surgical tools. By contrast, laparoscopic surgery is a newer advance. It entails the surgeon making a smaller incision and then entering the body with special tools guided by a tiny, lighted camera. Laparoscopic surgery tends to heal more quickly and leave less of a scar.
3. The use of mesh to strengthen the abdominal wall is becoming more prevalent:
In most hernia surgeries these days, a special mesh is inserted into the affected area and used to fortify the wall of the abdomen.
4. Mesh used to be used mainly for hernias that were large or hard to repair:
In the past, mesh was only used whereby the hernia was relatively large and hard to repair through the use of traditional stitches alone.
5. While the use of mesh is overall preferable, it has been linked with slightly higher post-operative infection rates:
The only major potential drawback to using mesh today is that it can potentially lead to a higher chance of an infection developing in the patient in the days and weeks after surgery. However, overall, it is still highly preferred to the non-mesh surgery method for most types of hernia, large and small.
These 5 points about hernia surgery with and without mesh can help educate you about your options as you discuss the best choice with your doctor.