Inguinal hernia (hernia of the groin) is a common medical condition in the U.S., particularly among men. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that approximately 25% of males and 2% of females will develop an inguinal hernia in their lifetimes.
Age is not necessarily a factor with this condition. Some children can develop an inguinal hernia before the age of one, and premature infants are more at risk than full-term babies. Inguinal hernias often appear before the age of 30, and also later in life, particularly among men over the age of 40, when abdominal muscles begin to weaken.
In most cases, an inguinal hernia should be surgically repaired to avoid possible serious complications. Vadim Gritsus, M.D. is one of the premier inguinal hernia surgeons in the state of New Jersey. When you come to our practice for inguinal hernia repair in New Jersey, you can expect surgical excellence, advanced treatment, and compassionate patient care.
Risk Factors for Inguinal Hernias
Depending on the type -- direct or indirect -- inguinal hernias can be attributed to different causes.
Risk factors for developing this condition include:
- Male gender
- Obesity or excessive weight
- Family history of inguinal hernia
- Chronic constipation
- Chronic cough
- Standing for long periods of time
- Premature birth
- Low birth weight
- Previous inguinal hernia history
Inguinal Hernia Symptoms
The first symptom of an inguinal hernia is typically a small bulge on one side of the groin. The bulge usually disappears when a person is lying down. It may increase in size over time.
Other symptoms include:
- Pain or discomfort in the groin while exercising, lifting, straining, or coughing, which decreases with rest;
- Feelings of burning, aching, weakness, or heaviness in the groin area; and
- Swelling of the scrotum in males.
Inguinal Hernia Complications
When left untreated, inguinal hernias can have serious complications:
Pain, pressure, and swelling: Most inguinal hernias become larger over time and put increasing pressure on the surrounding tissue. If not repaired surgically, a large hernia can extend into the scrotum, causing swelling and pain.
Incarceration: An incarcerated inguinal hernia occurs when fat or intestinal tissue from the abdomen becomes stuck in the scrotum or groin and cannot retreat back into the abdomen. This can obstruct the bowel and cause severe symptoms, including pain, nausea, vomiting, and inability to move the bowels or pass gas.
Strangulation: An incarcerated hernia, when left untreated, can cut off blood supply to part of the intestine and lead to the death of the affected tissue. This is a life-threatening situation that requires emergency surgery. Laparoscopic inguinal hernia repair can prevent strangulation from occurring.
Seek immediate medical attention if you experience symptoms of inguinal hernia incarceration or strangulation.
Symptoms may include:
- Painful redness or extreme tenderness in the groin area
- Sudden pain that quickly worsens and does not go away
- Nausea or vomiting
- Inability to move the bowels or pass gas
Diagnosing Inguinal Hernias
Physicians may diagnose inguinal hernias through physical examination, family medical history, and imaging tests, which may involve an abdominal X-ray, CT scan, or abdominal ultrasound. Imaging is not typically necessary for diagnosis unless the doctor is diagnosing strangulation or incarceration; is uncertain whether an inguinal hernia or another condition is causing the swelling in the groin; or is unable to feel the hernia during a physical exam, particularly with overweight patients.
Inguinal Hernia Repair
Surgical repair is the only treatment option for an inguinal hernia. Inguinal hernia repair can prevent incarceration and strangulation, which can become a life-threatening condition. Most people with an inguinal hernia should have surgery, particularly those with hernias that cause symptoms. If surgery is delayed until symptoms increase, it is important to be monitored closely.
Cutting-Edge Laparoscopic Surgery for Hernia Repair
Dr. Gritsus has extensive experience repairing hernias with cutting-edge laparoscopic surgery, using mesh. The procedure is performed under general anesthesia. The surgeon makes small incisions in the lower abdomen and inserts a thin tube with a miniscule camera attached -- an instrument known as a laparoscope. The camera sends an image to a video monitor, which provides the surgeon with a close-up view of the hernia and surrounding area, enabling the surgeon to perform the hernia repair with surgical precision, using lightweight, synthetic mesh.
Mesh is needed in the groin area to create a “tension-free repair,” similar to the way a patch is needed to repair a large hole in a garment. The mesh is safe to use in this procedure and incorporates well into the abdominal wall. Infection is extremely rare with inguinal hernia repair, partly because there is no contact of the mesh with the skin after the hernia is repaired during laparoscopic surgery.
Laparoscopic inguinal hernia repair is a same-day procedure that generally takes Dr. Gritsus approximately 30 minutes to an hour to perform. Recovery time in the surgical center after the procedure is approximately 1 to 2 hours. As the surgery is performed under general anesthesia, you will need someone to drive you home. There are few complications with laparoscopic hernia repair, and less downtime than with other surgical techniques.
Inguinal Hernia Recurrence
Unfortunately, even with the best of treatment, inguinal hernias sometimes do recur. The good news is that, when a hernia does come back, it can be repaired laparoscopically.
Risk factors for inguinal hernia reoccurrence include:
- Extremely large hernia
Inguinal Hernia Prevention
Although weakness in the abdominal wall cannot be prevented, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of developing an inguinal hernia or recurrence after surgery:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Do not smoke
- Avoid heavy lifting
- Use the legs instead of the back when lifting heavy objects
- Prevent constipation and avoid straining during bowel movements
Research has determined that diet and nutrition are factors in inguinal hernia development. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables and other high-fiber foods may help prevent painful inguinal hernia symptoms, as this type of diet can help reduce constipation and straining.
Inguinal Hernia Repair Surgeon
Vadim Gritsus, M.D. has been practicing privately in New Jersey since 2003 and has successfully performed thousands of hernia repairs. He is recognized not only for his surgical expertise and commitment to patient care and safety, but also for the compassionate, individualized care he provides his patients. You can rest assured that Dr. Gritsus will provide the utmost attention to detail during your inguinal hernia repair in New Jersey.
If you have inguinal hernia symptoms, surgical repair may be necessary to prevent serious complications. Fortunately, inguinal hernias can be repaired laparoscopically in a safe procedure with very few complications. An inguinal hernia will not go away on its own. In any hernia surgery, it is important that your surgeon has a great depth of knowledge, experience, and skill.
Call our office to arrange for an exam at one of our two conveniently located offices in Pequannock and Paramus, New Jersey. We accept most types of insurance, and our staff will work with you to help you qualify for the treatment you need. Our mission is to serve our patients with technical expertise, surgical excellence, and a gentle human touch.