Not all hernias will require surgery, but when they lead to other chronic and worsening symptoms, robotic hernia repair surgery may be what you need.
Hernias develop when an internal organ pushes through a weak spot in your muscle or tissue. If left untreated, hernias can grow and lead to more serious complications, which is why it is important to seek treatment quickly.
Robotic hernia repair surgery, an increasingly common treatment option for hernias, is a minimally invasive procedure that makes a patient’s recovery simple and easy. General surgeons John Phu, MD, and Adeshola Fakulujo, MD, discuss how robotic hernia repair surgery works and what to expect.
What are the causes and health risks of a hernia?
There are several types of hernias, and while most are benign, it is important to get them treated for various reasons.
“A hernia can occur in the abdomen or groin when an organ or tissue bulges through a weakness in the abdominal wall,” explains Dr. Phu. “It usually presents as a noticeable bulge that can be pushed back in, and can grow over time.” Symptoms of hernias include, but are not limited to:
- Increased pain or numbness
- Pain while lifting
- A dull ache
- A growing bulge in the abdomen or groin
Hernias become more common as people age and their muscles become weaker. They are also more common in people who:
- Experience weight gain or obesity
- Become pregnant
- Have a family history of hernias
- Perform physically taxing movements, like heavy lifting or twisting
The risks of an untreated hernia are continued chronic pain, vomiting and strangulation of the intestines, which may become trapped in the hernia as it continues to grow. Some hernias cause emergencies like a bowel obstruction, and may require surgery.
How can a hernia be repaired?
Hernias can be repaired with one of three types of surgery: open, laparoscopic and robotic. The type of surgery will depend on the size of the hernia and the patient’s health: “Hernia repair surgery is not a one-size-fits-all approach,” says Dr. Phu.
In an open procedure, the surgeon makes a long cut over the hernia to set the protruding tissue back in place. “Open surgery is the most invasive approach with the longest recovery, usually performed when a hernia has grown to a fairly large size or the patient has undergone hernia surgery previously,” says Dr. Fakulujo.
Laparoscopic and robotic surgery, however, are both minimally invasive and very commonly used. These two types of surgeries require three to four small incisions where surgical instruments are inserted and include a camera that magnifies the surgeon’s view of the procedure.
What are the benefits of robotic hernia repair surgery?
While laparoscopic surgery is performed by hand with the help of a two-dimensional camera, robotic surgery allows the surgeon to operate the instruments from a console using a three-dimensional camera. “The technology involved in robotic surgery is much more advanced,” says Dr. Fakulujo. “The three-dimensional camera is more refined than the camera used in laparoscopy. It gives the surgeon crystal clear vision with 3D depth, allowing for a much more precise surgery.”
Because robotic surgery is both precise and minimally invasive, it results in less pain, fewer complications and a quicker recovery time for the patient. Talk to your healthcare provider to find out if robotic hernia repair surgery is right for your condition.
[Main photo credit: iStock.com/PeopleImages]