When a Ventral Hernia occurs, it usually shows up in the abdominal wall. The sites where most Ventral Hernias occur are at the location of where a previous surgical incision was made. The reason that the Ventral Hernia appears in this area is because the abdominal muscles have weakened. As a result, a bulge or a tear will occur. If you need an example to help you understand how this scenario actually works, just think of how an inner tube pushes through a damaged tire (when you are applying this example, think of the inner lining of the abdomen pushes through the weakened area of the abdominal wall). As a result, a balloon-like sac is formed. The reason that Ventral Hernias can be so dangerous is because a loop of intestines or other abdominal contents can get pushed into the sac. If the abdominal contents get stuck within the sac, they can become trapped. This is a situation that could lead to potentially serious problems and one that might require emergency surgery.
Preparation for Ventral Hernia Surgery
- Most hernia operations are performed on an outpatient basis, so you will probably go home on the same or following day that the operation is performed.
- Preoperative preparation includes blood work, medical evaluation, chest x-ray and an EKG depending on your age and medical condition.
- After your Surgeon reviews with you the potential risks and benefits of the operation, you will need to provide written consent for surgery.
- It is recommended that you shower the night before or morning of the operation.
- Your Surgeon my request that you completely empty your colon and cleanse your intestines before surgery. Usually, you must drink a special cleansing solution. You may be requested to drink clear liquids only, for one or several days prior to the operation.
- After midnight the night before the operation, you should not eat or drink anything except take medications that your Surgeon has told you are permissible to take with a sip of water the morning of surgery.
- Drugs such as aspirin, blood thinners, anti-inflammatory medications (arthritis medications) and Vitamin E will need to be stopped temporarily for several days to a week prior to surgery.
- Diet medication or St. John’s Wort should not be used for the two weeks prior to surgery.
Procedure for Ventral Hernia Surgery
Surgeons are actually able to perform a procedure called Ventral Hernia Repair. Given that fact that close to one hundred thousand Ventral Hernia Repair operations are performed in the United States each year, this has become a procedure that is not only fairly easy for surgeons to perform, but it also has a high success rate. A Ventral Hernia Repair procedure can be performed in the conventional open method or the laparoscopic method. Because your surgeon will be familiar with your specific case, he/she will be able to best decide which of these two methods is best for you.
Recovering from Ventral Hernia Surgery
- Patients are encouraged to engage in light activity while at home after surgery. Your Doctor will determine the extent of activity, including lifting and other forms of physical exertion.
- Post-operative discomfort is usually mild to moderate. Frequently, patients will require pain medication.
- If you begin to have fever, chills, vomiting, and are unable to urinate, or experience drainage from your incisions you should call your Surgeon immediately.
- If you have prolonged soreness and are getting no relief from your prescribed pain medication, you should notify your Surgeon.
- Most patients are able to get back to their normal activities in a short period of time. These activities include showering, driving, walking up stairs, and lifting.
- Occasionally, patients develop a lump or some swelling in the area where their hernia had been. Frequently this is due to fluid collecting within the previous space of the hernia. Most often this will disappear on its own with time. If not, your surgeon may aspirate this with a needle in the office.
- You should ask your physician when and if you need to schedule a follow-up appointment. Typically, patients call to schedule follow-up appointments within 2-3 weeks after their operation.
Ventral Hernia Risk Factors with surgery, and without
- You may get a hernia again and need another surgery
- You may have long-term pain or get a pocket of fluid that may need to be removed using a needle
- You may get an infection
- Scars may form inside, causing tissue or organs to stick together
- Your bowel or other organs may get damaged
- Without Surgery:
- Without treatment, your hernia may become bigger or infected.
- It may change your posture and make you stoop over.
- Your pain may get worse.
- Your bowel may become trapped or twisted and become blocked.
- You may bleed inside your abdomen, and get a life-threatening infection.