What can happen to hernias?

Some patients may have a hernia present for years and not have too much trouble. On the other hand some patients do not even know they have a hernia and suddenly present with one of the complications such as strangulation. That is why any patient who presents with abdominal symptoms such as pain or vomiting should have all their hernia sites thoroughly checked.

Many years ago hernia surgery like other forms of surgery was dangerous and there were significant complications to surgery. Included in this, there was a high rate of recurrence of the hernia following surgery. This meant that patients often deferred surgery, but it also meant there was a higher rate of significant complications such as strangulation and bowel obstruction.

The materials which we used to repair hernias years ago were not as strong and were more subject to the risk of infection. Now most of these problems have been overcome. Thus surgery is usually advised for all but the most minor of hernias. This should take into account of course the patients’ general health, age etc.

In the past the hospital stay was many days. Now most patients can be treated as a day case.

In the past extreme care regarding mobility and work was required, now early mobility and return to work are encouraged.

In the past there was a high recurrence rate following hernia surgery. Now the recurrence rate in specialist’s hands is low. Then there were the complications and risks of general anaesthesia – these risks are now minimal. Now the procedure is carried out under local anaesthesia and sedation with a mesh reinforcement – the tension free technique allows early mobilisation, low recurrence rate, early return to normal activity and minimal after effects of the anaesthetic.

We recommend the tension free technique, popularised by Dr Lichenstein of the Lichenstein Hernia Centre and used exclusively in England’s largest Hernia Clinic, The British Hernia Centre.