Complicated or complex hernias include those that have been repaired before on multiple occasions, those associated with infections, or those that have resulted in bowel perforations or fistulas. Each hernia poses unique challenges.
Karl A. LeBlanc, MD, MBA, FACS is an innovator in the field of complicated hernia repair and specializes in using the most advanced minimally invasive techniques to treat all types of hernias. Our team is at the forefront of hernia expertise, with Dr. LeBlanc among an elite group of physicians from around the world developing the newest surgical and surgical training techniques. Patients regularly travel to Baton Rouge from around the world to receive hernia care from our internationally renowned surgeons. Advantages to this laparoscopic approach include quicker recovery, shorter hospital stays, and a significantly reduced risk of infection and recurrence.
Complex Hernia Patients
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A hernia is a bulge that occurs through the muscles of the abdominal wall – it can be a bulging intestine or other organ, or even fat. Weakness in the muscle wall allows these bulges to push through. In adults, the most common types of hernia are inguinal, incisional and hiatal.
- Inguinal hernia – This type of hernia occurs in the upper thigh near the groin. In an inguinal hernia, the sac protrudes into the groin toward and sometimes into the scrotum. Although most common in men, inguinal hernias can also occur in women.
- Incisional hernia – An incisional hernia occurs after abdominal surgery as a result of the abdominal wall failing to heal properly.
- Hiatal hernia – A hiatal hernia occurs when a hole in the diaphragm allows the upper part of the stomach to protrude upward into the chest cavity, allowing acid retention in the esophagus. It can be associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Signs and Symptoms of Hernia
The symptoms of hernias vary. Sometimes the onset is gradual, with no symptoms other than the development of a bulge. In others, the hernia may present with a sudden giving away of the abdominal wall, which may be accompanied by pain.
In adults, hernia symptoms can appear as back pain, chest pain or nausea. Some patients may feel a soft lump in a post-surgery scar or in your groin or abdomen. Pressing the lump or lying down may make it disappear. This lump may be painful when you lift heavy objects, bend over or cough.
In some cases, an incarcerated hernia gets so constricted that the blood supply is cut off and the tissue swells. Increasing pain or a tender lump that won’t go away indicates that the hernia has strangulated. When this occurs, the intestine can die quickly, leading to a life-threatening emergency that requires immediate medical attention.
Surgical Treatment of Hernias
Hernia repair surgery, herniorrhaphy, is usually recommended when a hernia becomes painful and affects daily activities or if its presence causes additional health issues like intestinal blockages and limited blood flow.
Traditional hernia surgery once required an incision through the abdomen. Through this incision, adjacent muscle was cut and pulled together using sutures or wire to close the opening caused by the hernia. Today, most hernias at Our Lady of the Lake can be repaired via laparoscopic surgery. This method uses three or four small incisions, through which a small camera and surgical devices enter to secure a mesh-like patch over the affected area.
Using the laparoscope’s thin, flexible, tube-like fiber optic camera, the surgeon can guide instruments directly to the area of the abdomen that needs repair. With the camera, the surgery site can be viewed with great detail, resulting in an enhanced level of precision. As an added benefit, surrounding healthy tissue is less likely to be affected and the tiny incisions can generally be closed with just one or two stiches.
With advanced technology and highly trained surgeons, laparoscopic hernia repair surgery allows patients to heal faster and offers significant benefits over traditional open surgeries, including:
- Less pain
- Less scarring
- Less recovery time
- Less risk of infection
- Less time in the hospital