Laparoscopic hernia repair is a minimally invasive surgical technique used for repairing many types of hernias. This procedure uses three to four small incisions and a tool called a laparoscope, or a thin tube with a camera on the end, to guide the surgeon. In some cases, mesh may be used to hold the protruding tissues in place. A laparoscopic hernia repair typically takes one hour or less to complete.
Why Laparoscopic Hernia Repair Is Performed
A hernia is a gap in the abdominal wall that develops from a weakness in the muscles. This weakness allows abdominal tissues, or sometimes the intestines, to protrude into the opening. If left untreated, hernias can cause serious health complications, such as infection and/or loss of blood to the intestine.
Laparoscopic hernia repair is used to treat hernias that are smaller in size and less complex. Patients with the following hernias may be good candidates for laparoscopic hernia repair:
What to Expect During a Laparoscopic Hernia Repair Procedure
Laparoscopic surgery must be performed using general anesthesia. This means that the patient will be asleep during the procedure. A surgeon will then make three to four small incisions around the hernia. One incision will measure less than one inch in size, while the other incisions will be a bit smaller. Through one incision, a laparoscope, an instrument with a tiny camera on the end, will be inserted to help guide the surgeon. The remaining surgical tools are inserted through the other incisions. Next, the abdomen may be inflated with a harmless gas called carbon dioxide or with a balloon. This is done to create space for the surgeon to work. The surgeon will then carefully pull the contents of the hernia back to their natural position. Finally, a piece of mesh is placed on the inner side of the gap to reinforce the weakened area of the abdominal wall.
Risks Associated with Laparoscopic Hernia Repair
The nature of laparoscopic hernia repair as a minimally invasive surgery means that, when applied to appropriate situations, this technique is as safe as open repair procedures. However, as with any surgical procedure, there is a risk of certain complications. Some of these risks include:
- Reaction to the anesthesia
- Recurrence of the hernia
Benefits of Laparoscopic Hernia Repair
At MedStar Washington Hospital Center, our hernia specialists are highly-skilled and extensively trained in laparoscopic hernia repair. Minimally invasive, minimal incision techniques provide the following benefits to patients:
- Lower risk of infection
- Smaller incision size
- Shorter operating room (OR) times
- Earlier return to work and daily activities
- Less pain and shorter recovery time for some patients
Additionally, if necessary, laparoscopic techniques allow surgeons to repair multiple hernias using the same incisions.
How to Prepare for Laparoscopic Hernia Repair
Pre-procedure instructions will be explained to patients by the surgeon. It may be necessary to stop eating and drinking for at least eight hours before the procedure. Patients taking prescription drugs should ask their doctor if they should continue taking their medications as usual on the days leading up to surgery. This is because certain medications can affect the body’s ability to clot blood, which can lead to complications during and/or after surgery.
Post Laparoscopic Hernia Repair Treatment
Most patients are able to go home the same day of a laparoscopic hernia repair procedure. However, the amount of time a patient is required to stay in the hospital following the procedure will depend on the patient’s overall health. Typically, patients can return to work within one week of surgery and can go back to their daily activities within one to two weeks. It is important to schedule and attend all follow-up appointments in addition to following all postoperative instructions that are given by the surgeon.