If you or a loved one have ever developed a hernia, you are familiar with how painful they can be. While hernias are common, they can be life-threatening if left untreated.
Dr. Michele Loor, assistant professor of surgery in the Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine, discusses hernia symptoms, risk factors and surgical treatment options.
Common types of hernias
Loor says there are four hernia types that are most often experienced among patients:
- Inguinal: Develops in the inner groin
- Incisional: Results from a previous surgical incision or scar in the abdomen
- Ventral: Develops in the abdominal wall
- Umbilical: Occurs at the belly button
What causes a hernia?
Patients usually first notice a painful bulge in the affected area, which may be moveable or stationary. Loor notes the following causes that commonly lead to hernias:
- Previous surgeries and incisions
- Heavy lifting
- Strenuous physical activity
- Persistent coughing or sneezing
“Hernias can be detected on physical exam and sometimes using an ultrasound or CT scan. We’ll assess how big the hernia is and what the muscles around them look like to determine next steps for treatment,” she said.
Surgical treatment options
Depending on the size and severity of the hernia, surgery may be needed to repair it. Loor says patients can receive open surgical treatment or a minimally invasive procedure such as robotic or laparoscopic surgery.
Loor says minimally invasive surgery usually results in less pain during recovery, less scarring and faster healing time.
“The type of surgery we perform depends on the hernia size and previous surgical history,” she said. “In the recovery period, patients are asked to not lift anything heavy. Usually patients recover within four weeks.”
To make an appointment with a hernia surgeon at Baylor, call 713- 798-4321 or schedule a visit online.
-By Nicole Blanton