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It's a lump in the groin that seems innocuous at first. An inguinal hernia happens when the intestines or other tissues protrude through a hole in the abdominal wall. It's the most common type of hernia and can sometimes become painful enough to interfere with normal activities such as walking or lifting objects. Left untreated, this hernia has the potential to cause serious problems.

For this reason, doctors usually recommend either open surgery or laparoscopic surgery to push the protruding tissue back and patch the hole. The minimally invasive - or laparoscopic - procedure has been gaining popularity as an alternative to open surgery, said Dr. Matthew Dolich, who performs both types of hernia repair at UCI Medical Center in Orange. Laparoscopic hernia repair involves using thin instruments and several incisions less than half an inch long. It appeals to somepatients because it often involves less pain and quicker recovery.

What is hernia?

Types of inguinal hernia

Reducible:
Intestines protrude out of the abdominal cavity but can be pushed back.
Incarcerated:
Protruding intestine or tissue is trapped and can't be pushed back. Sometimes, this needs immediate surgery.
Strangulated:
Protruding intestine is trapped and blood supply is cut off. This can result in gangrene and death and is a medical emergency. This needs immediate surgery.

Why repair it?
Some hernias can be so painful that they prevent people from enjoying normal daily or physical activity. More important, untreated hernias can be life-threatening.

Patching a hole: minimally invasive method

Laparoscopic hernia repair is a complex and difficult procedure that involves use of long and small instruments, such as a tiny camera to view the inside of the body, and cutting and gripping instruments.


1. A balloon instrument is inserted to inflate a pocket of space between abdominal wall and abdominal cavity. This gives surgeons an operating area. Port keeps abdomen from deflating.

2. Inflation tool is removed, camera is inserted. Two other tools manipulate intestine back into abdominal cavity. At the same time, surgeon looks for hernia on the other side of groin, which is then repaired.


3. A mesh patch made of plastic or titanium is positioned over abdominal cavity to reinforce the area.

4. Surgeon removes all tools, deflates the surgical area. Mesh stays in place, held by pressure from surrounding tissues. Tissue grows around the mesh, anchoring it.

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