If you’re experiencing the discomfort caused by an inguinal hernia, surgery is your best option for achieving relief. At Mount Sinai, our expert surgical team has extensive experience in the newest procedures for treating inguinal hernias, including laparoscopic techniques.
About Inguinal Hernias
An inguinal hernia is a weakness or defect in the abdominal wall occurring in the groin, near the opening of the inguinal canal. This is a common type of hernia that may be present since birth, or may develop over several years. More common in men, inguinal hernias can occur on one side or both sides. Most patients first notice a bulge in the groin, sometimes accompanied by discomfort. Occasionally, patients will report a strong, sharp pain in the groin, especially after heavy lifting or strenuous exercise. These hernias grow larger over time, as the pressure inside the abdomen pushes on the area of weakness.
As with all hernias, inguinal hernias may become incarcerated, or trapped, often causing significant pain that is sometimes accompanied by nausea, vomiting, or the inability to pass gas from the rectum. This is an emergency, and if this occurs, you should contact your doctor or go to the emergency room.
Hernias can be diagnosed by your doctor after listening to your history and performing a thorough physical examination. Occasionally, radiographic testing is needed to confirm the presence of a hernia.
Treatments for Inguinal Hernias
Surgical repair of an inguinal hernia is the best available treatment. At Mount Sinai, surgery for inguinal hernias can be performed laparoscopically or using the traditional open surgery method.
Open Inguinal Hernia Repair
Often referred to as the "traditional method," this repair involves an incision being made over the site of the hernia. A surgical mesh, or patch, is usually placed over the site of the hernia within the muscle in order to provide long-term strength to the area to help prevent the hernia from recurring. As in any operation, complications such as bleeding, infection, injury to the intestines, blood clots, or heart or lung problems may occur. Before surgery, your surgeon will recommend testing to determine if it is safe for you to have surgery.
After surgery, pain, discomfort, and swelling in the groin are expected. Pain is controlled by pain medications prescribed to you upon discharge from the hospital. Patients may need to ice the site of the area for approximately four days after surgery to help relieve the swelling and bruising. After an open inguinal hernia repair, patients are usually released from the hospital on the same day as the surgery.
Laparoscopic Inguinal Hernia Repair
At Mount Sinai, our surgeons are highly skilled in laparoscopic surgery to repair inguinal hernias. In this procedure, small incisions (about ½ - 1 inch long) are made, through which the laparoscope (a tiny telescope attached to a video camera) and several instruments are inserted. A mesh, or patch, is also inserted though one of these incisions to be placed over the hernia. The mesh is secured in place using very small tacks. For patients who have two inguinal hernias (bilateral), our surgeons can repair both at the same time. Patients undergoing this procedure receive general anesthesia.
After surgery, pain, discomfort, and swelling in the groin are expected. Pain is controlled by pain medications, and you may need to ice the area for approximately four days after surgery to help relieve the swelling and bruising. Following laparoscopic inguinal hernia repair, patients are usually able to leave the hospital the same day.