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Hernia (cont.)

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How is an abdominal hernia repaired and treated?

A hernia repair requires surgery. There are several different procedures that can be used for fixing any specific type of hernia. In the open surgical approach, following appropriate anesthesia and sterilization of the surgical site, an incision is made over the area of the hernia and carried down carefully through the sequential tissue layers. The goal is to separate away all the normal tissue and define the margins of the hole or weakness. Once this has been achieved, the hole is then closed, usually by some combination of suture and a plastic mesh. When a repair is done by suture alone, the edges of the defect are pulled together, much like sewing a hole together in a piece of cloth. One of the possible complications of this approach is that it can put excessive strain on the surrounding tissues through which the sutures are passed. Over time, with normal bodily exertion, this strain can lead to the tearing of these stressed tissues and the formation of another hernia. The frequency of such recurrent hernias, especially in the groin region, has led to the development of many different methods of suturing the deep tissue layers in an attempt to provide better results.

In order to provide a secure repair and avoid the stress on the adjacent tissue caused by pulling the hole closed, an alternative technique was developed which bridges the hole or weakness with a piece of plastic-like mesh or screen material. The mesh is a permanent material and, when sewn to the margins of the defect, it allows the body's normal healing process to incorporate it into the local structures. Hernia repair with mesh has proved to be a very effective means of repair.

After the hernia repair is completed, the overlying tissues and skin are surgically closed, usually with absorbable sutures. More and more of hernia repairs are now being done using laparoscopic techniques (see below).

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/7/2014


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