How Hernias Are Treated

Hernias occur when the intestines or part of the stomach pushes through the surrounding muscle or fascia. Depending on the type of hernia and other symptoms, there are several treatment approaches to manage the problem.

Watchful Waiting

Minor hernias where the intestine pokes through the abdominal wall might be managed without immediate intervention, especially if the intestine is not trapped. As long as there are no symptoms of intestinal blockage, necrosis, or infection, a surgeon might suggest you delay surgery. If you happen to be larger in size, a surgeon might also want you to lose weight before having a minor hernia repaired, since there may be unnecessary risks associated with surgery at this time. Some people who plan to have bariatric surgery and also have a hernia, may have both procedures done simultaneously. If your hernia is not urgent, doctors might suggest wearing supportive garments to prevent the intestines from poking back through the abdominal wall and to reduce pain.

Surgical Repair

At some point, a surgical repair will be necessary to prevent the stomach or intestines from repetitively entering the opening in the muscle. Even when surgery is not urgent, the more often the organ pushes through the hole in the muscle, the more likely it will become trapped. In the case of a hiatal hernia, an opening in the diaphragm will need to be sutured to prevent the upper stomach from herniating through the space. Other types of hernias, such as those occurring in the abdomen or groin, require suturing an opening in the abdominal wall to prevent herniation. In some cases, additional reinforcement is necessary to prevent the weak area from reopening later. A wire mesh may be used to add support.

Removal Of Tissue

If the hernia has caused the tissue to become strangled, repairing the weakened area will not be enough. The necrotic tissue will need to be removed and additional procedures may be necessary to address infection. Typically, when tissue necrosis occurs, it is hernias involving the intestines. The necrotic intestines will need to be removed and the two healthy ends of the intestines are joined together so there is no longer an intestinal blockage. If an infection is present, any debris, such as abscessed areas, will need to be cleaned or removed. Antibiotics will be necessary to kill current infection or as a preventative measure.

When there are symptoms of a hernia, prompt evaluation can help you determine whether surgical procedure is necessary. In many cases, hernias can be handled well-before complications, such as infection, occur.