Inguinal hernia, also known as groin hernia, forms when the intestines or fat from the abdomen protrude through the lower abdominal wall into the groin. The condition can occur in the right or left inguinal canal. An inguinal hernia forms a sac-like structure around the hernia when it bulges through the abdominal wall. The condition occurs more in men as compared to women.
Inguinal hernias usually may not cause any symptoms or pain when they first appear however, common symptoms of an inguinal hernia include:
Pain in the groin, especially while coughing or lifting something heavy
Heaviness in the groin
A bulge in the area of the pubic bone
An inguinal hernia can occur due to a weak area in the muscles and connective tissues of the lower abdominal wall. In infants, the inguinal hernia can develop because the lining of their abdomen doesn’t close properly. In adults, it may occur due to a weak area in the inguinal canal wall that develops later in life.
An inguinal hernia can be classified as follows:
Direct Inguinal Hernia:
A direct inguinal hernia often occurs in adult males when they age. They are most likely caused by the weakened muscles in the abdominal wall that develop over time or due to trauma. In this, the abdomen contents may bulge through the weakened area, resulting in a hernia.
Indirect Inguinal Hernia:
These occur in infants. The fetus has open inguinal canals inside the abdomen that close before birth. If one or both openings are not closed properly, they result in the formation of an inguinal hernia.
Strangulated Inguinal Hernia:
When an intestine in an incarcerated hernia gets stuck in the groin, the blood flow is cut off. This is known as strangulated inguinal hernia. This is a serve medical condition that requires emergency treatment.
Your doctor will ask for your medical history along with your symptoms. The doctor will also perform a physical examination to check your abdomen. The doctor may ask you to stand, cough or strain to check if the hernia comes out or not. The doctor may also recommend some imaging tests like CT scan, MRI, or abdominal ultrasound in some cases for inguinal hernia repair.
In most cases, surgery is the primary form for treating inguinal hernia. Your doctor will recommend the hernia repair based on different factors, including age, size of the hernia, health, and more:
Laparoscopic Hernia Repair:
Also known as minimally invasive, the surgical procedure is done by making a small incision in the lower abdomen. The surgeon then inserts a thin tube with a camera attached (laparoscope) into the incision. The camera sends images to the monitor, which aids the surgeon to repair the hernia through the small incision. The surgeon also uses a piece of mesh to close and strengthen the abdominal wall.
Next-Generation Robotic Surgery
The Next-Generation Robot, VERSIUS from CMR Surgical, Cambridge UK is designed to provide all the advantages of laparoscopic surgery with added precision and safety. Backed by Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, Versius is designed for surgical excellence. It enables a 3D view which gives a greater depth perception to the surgeon thus improving the accuracy, reducing the surgical time and in turn enhancing the safety of the procedure. The robot has an open console (unlike a closed tunnel like console of previous generation robots) which gives the surgeon complete access to the patient and team for close monitoring of all patient parameters during the procedure. Its robotic arms allow wide degree of movements that gives the surgeon unmatched flexibility for precise and efficient alignment thus overcoming the restrictions of a human wrist.
An inguinal hernia can cause certain complications if left untreated. Most inguinal hernias enlarge over time and can put pressure on the surrounding areas like the scrotum in males, causing pain and swelling. In extreme cases, the inguinal hernia can become strangulated and cut off the blood flow to a part of the intestine, which can be life-threatening and requires emergency inguinal hernia surgery.
Laparoscopic/ Robotic surgery has made the hernia repair minimally invasive and patient recovers quickly resuming normal daily activities in a day or two. There are no diet restrictions. The doctor will also advise avoiding heavy lifting and other strenuous activities for some time. Moreover, one needs to maintain a healthy lifestyle, eat a high-fiber diet, and quit smoking after the procedure.