Hernia repair is a common surgical procedure used to treat a bulge or tear in the abdominal area, usually due to a weakening of the abdominal wall. The goal of a hernia surgery is to repair the weakened area so that tissue or organs cannot push through it again. Smaller hernias are easier to treat than larger ones, therefore, it is best to seek treatment at the first sign of a hernia. At Missoula Surgical Associates, we treat all types of hernias, with a variety of surgical techniques that allow us to tailor your procedure to your specific needs.
What is a Hernia?
Hernias occur when an organ- such as the intestine or a portion of tissue- pushes forward from its normally contained space. This can occur when an area of the abdominal wall weakens, due to a natural weakness or excessive straining of the area that leads to weakening over time. Strain may occur from frequent coughing, heavy lifting or excessive weight gain.
Symptoms of a hernia may include:
- Obvious swelling beneath the skin of the abdomen or the groin
- Discomfort in the abdomen or groin when lifting or bending over
- A dull ache or feeling of fullness in the abdomen
- Pain when you cough or sneeze
- Nausea or constipation
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of a hernia, contact Missoula Surgical Associates or your primary care physician, as soon as possible to schedule a full evaluation and discuss your treatment options.
Types of Hernias
There is a variety of hernias that can be treated at Missoula Surgical Associates:
Inguinal – This is the most common type of hernia and tends to be more prevalent in men than women. These hernias occur in the lower part of the abdominal wall, in the same location where a man’s testicles develop prior to birth. In some cases, they can occur on both sides of the abdominal wall. Pain from this type of hernia can extend to the upper thigh and scrotum area.
Epigastric – These hernias are also more common in men than women, and occur in the area between the lower breastbone and navel. Weakness that leads to this type of hernia is often present at birth, but can worsen with persistent pressure in the midline.
Incisional – This type of hernia develops at the site of a previous surgery. They can occur any time after a surgical procedure, even years later. Incisional hernias can enlarge, making them difficult to repair. For this reason, it is even more important to seek treatment for an incisional hernia as soon as possible.
Femoral – A femoral hernia occurs in the groin and tends to occur more frequently in women because they are often the result of pregnancy and childbirth. These hernias are more prone to serious complications if left unchecked, so early treatment is always recommended.
Umbilical – Typically occurring around the navel, this type of hernia may be seen in children and adults alike. If the hernia is not a defect that was present at birth, it is typically caused by pregnancy, weight gain or even persistent coughing.
Hiatal – A hiatal hernia occurs as a result of weakening in the area of the diaphragm, the muscle that separates the abdominal and chest cavities. This type of hernia can lead to acid reflux, which causes pain, burning and damage to the esophagus over time. Surgical repair of hiatal hernias is often more complex than other types of hernia repair.
Options in Hernia Surgery
At Missoula Surgical Associates, we offer three options in hernia repair:
Laparoscopic Hernia Surgery – This procedure uses special tools and a lighted scope to repair the hernia with smaller incisions than traditional techniques. Benefits for the patient include smaller incisions, less post-operative discomfort and a shorter recovery period. Your surgeon at Missoula Surgical Associates will help you determine whether you are a good candidate for laparoscopic surgery based on the severity of your hernia and your medical history.
Robotic Hernia Surgery – Missoula Surgical Associates offers the latest technology in hernia repair. Robotic surgery provides greater precision and accuracy for all types of hernia treatments. The da Vinci robotic system features 3D vision with magnification and special wristed instruments to enhance to overall surgical performance and patient experience. Incisions used for robotic surgery are similar to those used for laparoscopic procedure, promising patients similar results with less discomfort and downtime.
Open Hernia Surgery – The traditional method of surgical repair is typically reserved for the most severe cases or for patients who have scarring from previous surgeries. The procedure involves a larger incision in the abdominal cavity to repair the hernia, resulting in a longer recovery period for the patient. However, there are instances where open hernia repair may be the best option for some patients.
If you are suffering from the painful symptoms of a hernia, you can contact Missoula Surgical Associates directly for a diagnosis and treatment options. This condition does not usually require a referral from a primary care physician in order to ensure the treatment is covered by insurance. We can help you determine what type of hernia you have, the extent of the damage and the best surgical treatment for your specific needs. To learn more, contact Missoula Surgical Associates today at 406.542.7525.