What Is A Hernia?
A hernia is a medical condition Where an internal organ or other body part protrudes through a weak spot or tear in the muscle wall or connective tissue. The weak spot or tear can allow the intestine, fatty tissue or an organ to squeeze through, often at the abdominal wall. In some cases, a hernia can be seen externally bulging, often when a person is straining.
There are a number of different types of hernias, the most common types are:
- Inguinal: Occurs in the inner groin
- Femoral: Occurs in the upper thigh/outer groin
- Incisional: Occurs through an incision or scar in the abdomen
- Ventral: Occurs in the general abdominal/ventral wall
- Umbilical: Occurs at the belly button
- Hiatal: Occurs inside the abdomen, along the upper stomach/diaphragm
What Causes A Hernia?
Typically, hernias are caused by when pressure is exerted in/on the abdomen. This pressure can cause organ or tissue to push through a weak spot or opening in the muscle or connective tissue. In some situations, the muscle weakness is a present from birth however it is more common that the weakness develops later in life. Anything that increases abdominal pressure can result in a hernia, including; lifting heavy objects, persistent coughing or sneezing, obesity, and even diarrhea or constipation.
What Are Treatment Options for Hernias?
Over one million surgical hernia repairs are performed every year in the U.S. and close to 80% of the repairs performed are for inguinal hernias.
The surgical treatment can be completed two ways; laparoscopic or open repair. A laparoscopic surgery is performed via several small incisions in the abdomen that allows the surgeon to insert the surgical tools to repair the hernia. This type of surgery can be performed with or without surgical mesh. Open repair surgery requires the surgeon to make an incision near the hernia allowing for repair of the weak muscle area. This type of hernia repair surgery can also be completed with or without the use of surgical mesh.
Surgical Hernia Mesh
Surgical mesh is a medical device used to deliver added support to weakened or compromised tissue. Most surgical meshes currently available are made from synthetic materials or animal/human tissue.
Synthetic material surgical mesh can come in knitted mesh or non-knitted sheet forms. These synthetic materials can either be absorbable or non-absorbable or a combination of the two.
The non-absorbable mesh stays in the body forever and is considered permanent. This type of surgical mesh is used as permanent reinforcement. Absorbable mesh degrades over time and loses strength and is not intended to be permanent. As the mesh degrades, new tissue is intended to grow and provide strength to the repair.
Hernia Mesh Complications
A number of hernia meshes have been withdrawn from the market. These products may no longer be on the market but they are still implanted in patients.
The most common complications related to surgical hernia meshes include:
- Organ perforation