One in every four men will at some point in their life develop an inguinal hernia.
Some frequently asked questions...
What is a hernia?
A hernia is an abnormal protrusion of an organ through a weakness in the abdominal wall. The most common type of hernia is inguinal (groin hernia). One in every four men will at some point in their life develop an inguinal hernia.
What are the symptoms of a hernia?
Symptoms can include a sharp pain or just a dull ache. There is usually a visible bulge that gets bigger on straining or lifting.
What causes a hernia?
Hernias are caused by weakness in the abdominal wall.
A previous incision for example may have weakened the abdominal wall despite being repaired and months or years later a bulge can appear through the old scar.
Inguinal (groin hernia) occur more commonly in men. This is because the blood vessels and a Vas Deferens that carries sperm travel to the testicle through the abdominal wall. At this point there is a potential weakness that is either aggravated later in life by coughing, lifting or suddenly jarring the muscles
How is a hernia repaired?
Hernia repair requires either open or laparoscopic surgery. The laparoscopic technique takes a little longer to perform but offers the advantage of less post operative pain an earlier return to normal activities.
Both types of repair are achieved using surgical mesh. We use mesh (rather than sutured) to reduce the chance of recurrence. The New Zealand Association of General Surgeons has published a position statement on mesh hernia repair.
We have adopted the light weight meshes in an attempt to reduce the incidence of chronic post operative pain that can occur in about 10% of patients.The chance of getting post operative pain is higher for a sutured repair.
Are they common?
Yes. Over 20 million groin hernias are repaired in the world every year!!
Do I need to have it fixed?
This really is the commonest question people ask. The main worry is that the abdominal contents either fat or bowel can protrude through the weakness in the muscle and get trapped. When this happens and the blood supply is lost then strangulation occurs and this is a very dangerous complication of a hernia and requires immediate surgical attention and repair. Patients who develop this have a lot of pain associated with the lump of the hernia and are very sick.
Luckily, the vast majority of hernias are reducible and the risk of strangulation is low.
If you have a lump and it causes minimal or no symptoms then we would advise you to leave it alone. A surgical repair is only recommended if it is causing you symptoms.
Will ACC cover my hernia?
Sometimes hernias are caused by lifting heavy objects or sudden strains.
- If there is a history of a specific event that caused immediate pain,
- associated with the appearance of a lump shortly afterwards,
- and you have promptly reported to your GP,
Then ACC may accept this hernia occurrence as an accident.
We apply to ACC to cover the costs of repair at our Southern Cross affilated Hospital - Kensington
The application process with ACC takes about a month, from the time of initial filing to the time of final approval.
For patients who have private insurance cover, once the ACC process is commenced, it must be completed as insurance companies will not cover cases that ACC would cover.