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Inguinal hernia repair

Inguinal hernia repair is surgery to repair a hernia in the abdominal wall of your groin. A hernia is tissue that bulges out of a weak spot in the abdominal wall. Your intestines may bulge out through this weakened area.

During hernia repair, this bulging tissue is pushed back in. Your abdominal wall is strengthened and supported with sutures (stitches), and sometimes mesh.

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You will probably receive general anesthesia (asleep and pain-free) or spinal anesthesia for this surgery. If your hernia is small, you may receive local anesthesia and medicine to relax you. You will be awake but pain-free.

In open surgery, your surgeon will make a cut near your hernia.

  • Your surgeon will find the hernia and separate it from the tissues around it. Then your surgeon will remove the hernia sac or push the intestines back into your abdomen.
  • Your surgeon will close your weakened abdominal muscles with stitches. Often a piece of mesh is also sewn into place to strengthen your abdominal wall. This repairs the weakness in the wall of your abdomen.

Your surgeon may use a laparoscope instead of doing open surgery.

  • A laparoscope is a thin tube with a tiny camera on the end that allows your surgeon to see inside this area. Your surgeon will make 3 or 4 small cuts in your lower belly and insert the laparoscope and other small instruments through them.
  • The same repair will be done as the repair in open surgery.
  • The benefits of this surgery are a faster healing time, less pain, and less scarring. Laparoscopic surgery may not be recommended for larger or more complicated hernias, or for growing hernias on both sides.

Alternative Names

Herniorrhaphy; Hernioplasty - inguinal

Why the Procedure Is Performed

Your doctor may suggest hernia repair surgery if you have pain or your hernia bothers you during your everyday activities. If your hernia is not causing you problems, you may not need surgery. However, these hernias most often do not go away on their own, and they may get larger.

Sometimes the intestines can be trapped inside. This can be life threatening. If it happens, you would need emergency surgery right away.

Risks

Risks for any surgery are:

Risks for this surgery are:

  • Damage to other blood vessels or organs
  • Damage to the nerves
  • Damage to the testicles if a blood vessel connected to them is harmed
  • Long-term pain in the cut area
  • Return of the hernia

Before the Procedure

Always tell your doctor or nurse if:

  • You are or could be pregnant
  • You are taking any drugs, supplements, or herbs you bought without a prescription

During the week before your surgery:

  • Several days before surgery, you may be asked to stop taking drugs that make it harder for your blood to clot. These include aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), clopidogrel (Plavix), warfarin (Coumadin), naprosyn (Aleve, Naproxen), and other drugs like these.
  • Ask your doctor which drugs you should still take on the day of surgery.

On the day of your surgery:

  • Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before surgery.
  • Take your drugs your doctor told you to take with a small sip of water.
  • Your doctor or nurse will tell you when to arrive at the hospital.

After the Procedure

Most patients are able to get out of bed an hour or so after this surgery. Most can go home the same day, but some may need to stay in the hospital overnight.

Some men may have problems passing urine after hernia surgery. If you have problems urinating, you may need a catheter (a flexible tube that will drain urine) in your bladder for a short time.

Outlook (Prognosis)

The outcome of this surgery is usually very good. In a few persons, the hernia returns.

References

Malangoni MA, Rosen MJ. Hernias. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 46.

Updated: 1/29/2013

John A. Daller, MD, PhD, Department of Surgery, Crozer-Chester Medical Center, Chester, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.


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