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Not all abdominal hernias require surgery - Independent-Messenger: News

Not all abdominal hernias require surgery

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Posted: Thursday, September 13, 2018 6:00 am

Some with abdominal hernias can go 40 years without surgery, but sometimes emergency surgery is required when a hernia becomes a life-threatening complication.

“A hernia is a defect through the wall of the body where stuff through the abdomen pushes out,” Surgeon Dr. Homayoon Akbari, of Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center said. “It can be through the front, groin area inside of the chest. There are different types of hernias.”

Akbari said one symptom could be a slight ache that comes and goes, or it could be a sharp pain. An intestine could be stuck through an opening and lead to vomiting. Whether or not the hernia requires surgery depends on the severity.

If an abdominal hernia requires surgery Akbari said a piece of mesh is used and it makes some patients nervous due to horror stories about mesh previously used in surgical procedures. Akbari said those meshes are no longer on the market and the mesh used for hernia surgery are much safer. Having a hernia surgery without mesh can double or triple the chances of the hernia recurring. Though the mesh used in current hernia surgeries doesn’t bring the high risk of types of mesh used in the past in surgical procedures, it is not always perfect.

“There can be complications,” Akbari said. “Organs can get stuck up to the mesh causing obstructions or infection, but you are much more likely to have a recurring problem if mesh is not used in surgery.

Akbari said he actually has a hernia and has not had surgery scheduled. Though some hernias may not require surgery, even those are something to be aware of.

“There is always a risk you might have to have emergency surgery,” Akbari said. “An incarcerated hernia that is protruding out becomes strangulated and cuts off the blood supply and requires immediate surgery.”

The bigger the opening of a hernia the better. The smaller hernia openings of two to four centimeters or slightly larger increase the danger of the intestine protruding through the opening and becoming strangulated.

Sometimes an abdominal hernia can be controlled temporarily by wearing a belt-like device called a truss to push tissues into the abdomen, but a physician should be consulted before using a truss to control the hernia.

Akbari said hernias can be caused or made worse by simple genetics, smoking, diabetes, surgery, high blood pressure or heavy lifting.

Diabetes prevention steps include exercise and healthy eating habits.