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Hernia Center

Cleveland Clinic surgeons specialize in all types of hernia repair from the traditional, open technique to laparoscopic or minimally invasive surgery.

An estimated 5 million Americans have hernias and only 700,000 have them surgically repaired each year. While some hernias don't cause symptoms and no treatment is needed, some patients any avoid treating their hernias because they fear painful surgery. Often, however, hernia surgery is performed on an outpatient basis with a minimal recovery period.

Each year, Cleveland Clinic surgeons perform more than 1,700 hernia repairs affording them expertise in both common and complex cases. More importantly, patients complete a comprehensive evaluation with a board-certified surgeon to determine the best surgical procedure to avoid repeat hernias and complications.

To make an appointment at any one of our locations, please call 216.444.6644 or 866.956.8463 (toll free).

If you are a MyChart patient, you may log in and make your appointment request from your MyChart account.

Why Choose Cleveland Clinic's Hernia Center?

  • The breadth of the surgeons’ experience offers patients a variety of surgical options, including laparoscopy. After a detailed initial exam, the surgeon will recommend the ideal surgical procedure.
  • Cleveland Clinic surgeons have extensive experience with complex and/or repeat hernia surgeries.
  • Hernia repair is available at Cleveland Clinic's main campus as well as several other convenient locations simply by calling 216.444.6644 for an appointment.

Each year, while an estimated 5 million Americans develop hernias, only 700,000 have them surgically repaired. Most physicians believe people avoid treating their hernias because they fear painful surgery. Today, there is little reason to fear. Hernia surgery is usually performed on an outpatient basis and patients are able to return to most normal activities in a matter of a few days.

What is a hernia?

A hernia occurs when the inside layers of the abdominal wall weaken then bulge or tear. The inner lining of the abdomen pushes through the weakened area to form a balloon-like sac. This, in turn, can cause a loop of intestine or abdominal tissue to slip into the sac, causing pain and other potentially serious health problems.

Men and women of all ages can have hernias. Hernias usually occur either because of a natural weakness in the abdominal wall or from excessive strain on the abdominal wall, such as the strain from heavy lifting, substantial weight gain, persistent coughing, or difficulty with bowel movements or urination. There are three primary types of hernias:

  • Incisional or ventral: appears at the site of the incision of a previous abdominal operation. This can happen soon after the operation or many years later.
  • Inguinal: develops when a portion of an internal organ such as the intestine, along with fluid, bulges through a weakened area in the muscle wall of the abdomen.
  • Umbilical: occurs around the navel and is usually present at birth, though it may not become a problem until adulthood.

What are the symptoms of hernias?

  • A noticeable protrusion in the groin area or in the abdomen
  • Feeling pain while lifting
  • A dull aching sensation
  • A vague feeling of fullness

How can a hernia be repaired?

Hernias usually need to be surgically repaired to prevent intestinal damage and further complications. The surgery takes about an hour and is usually performed on an outpatient basis (which means the patient can go home the same day of the procedure). This surgery may be performed by an open repair (small incision over the herniated area) or by laparoscopic surgery (minimally invasive). Your surgeon will determine the best method of repair for your individual situation.

Open Repair Surgery

During the surgery
  • An anesthesiologist (a physician who specializes in pain relief) will recommend a type of anesthesia according to your condition and health status. You will not feel pain during the surgery.
  • A small incision or cut is made in the skin.
  • The hernia “sac” containing the bulging intestine is identified.
  • The surgeon pushes the intestine inside the hernia sac back into its proper position behind the muscle wall.
  • The muscle wall is reinforced with stitches or synthetic mesh to complete the repair.
After the surgery

Most patients will be able to go home a few hours after surgery. If needed, a 23-hour extended recovery area is available. Typically, most patients feel fine within a few days after the surgery and resume normal eating habits and activities. Strenuous activity and exercise are restricted for 4 to 6 weeks after surgery.

Laparoscopic Surgery

During the surgery

Laparoscopic surgery uses a thin, telescope-like instrument (known as an endoscope) that is inserted through a small incision at the umbilicus (belly button). Usually, this procedure is performed under general anesthesia. This requires an evaluation of your general state of health, including a history and physical exam, possibly including lab work and EKG. The endoscope is connected to a tiny video camera – smaller than a dime – that projects an “inside view” of the patient’s body onto television screens in the operating room. The abdomen is inflated with a harmless gas (carbon dioxide) to allow your doctor to view your internal structures.

The peritoneum (the inner lining of your abdomen) is cut to expose the weakness in the abdominal wall. A mesh patch is attached to secure the weak area under the peritoneum. The peritoneum is then closed with staples or sutures.

After the surgery

Following the procedure, the small abdominal incisions are closed with a stitch or two or with surgical tape. Within a few months, the incision is barely visible.

Benefits of laparoscopic hernia surgery:
  • Tiny scars rather than one larger incision
  • Reduced postoperative pain

Images

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To make an appointment at any of the Hernia Center locations listed below, please call 216.444.6644.

Main Campus

Main Campus
9500 Euclid Avenue
Desk A100
Cleveland, OH 44195

Hernia Center Community Practices:

Family Health Centers:

Avon Lake
450 Avon Beldon Road
Avon Lake, OH 44012

Avon – Richard E. Jacobs
33100 Cleveland Clinic Boulevard Avon, Ohio 44011

Elyria
303 Chestnut Commons Drive
Elyria, OH 44035

Independence
5001 Rockside Road
Crown Centre II
Independence, OH 44131

Lorain
5700 Cooper Foster Park Road
Lorain, Ohio 44053

Strongsville
16761 SouthPark Center
Strongsville, Ohio 44136

Twinsburg
2365 Edison Boulevard, Suite 100
Twinsburg, Ohio
440-519-6800

Ambulatory Surgery Centers/Hospitals:

Beachwood
26900 Cedar Road
Beachwood, Ohio 44122

Euclid
99 Northline Circle, Suite 202
Euclid, Ohio 44119

Elyria
303 Chestnut Commons Drive
Elyria, OH 44035

Fairview
20455 Lorain Avenue, Suite 301
Fairview Park, OH 44126

Hillcrest
6770 Mayfield Rd., Suite 348
Mayfield Hts., OH 44124

Lorain
5700 Cooper Forest Park Road
Lorain, OH 44053

Lutheran
1730 West 25th Street
Cleveland, Ohio 44113
216.696.4300

Marymount
5555 Transportation Blvd.
Suite D
Garfield Hts, OH 44125

South Pointe
20000 Harvard Road
Warrensville Heights, Ohio 44122

Wooster
721 East Milltown Rd.
Wooster, OH 44691

How soon can I return to work?

It depends on what type of work you do and which type of surgery you have. Typically, open repair patients may go back to deskwork within a week depending on how well you feel. Similarly, with laparoscopic repair, you may go back to deskwork within a few days.

If heavy lifting is required (greater than 20 – 25 lbs.), open repair patients may restrict this activity for 4 to 6 weeks. Patients with laparoscopic repair usually can begin heavy lifting in two weeks.

When can I resume normal activity?

Normal activity (minus exercise other than walking) for both open and laparoscopic repair can be resumed as soon as you feel well – usually within a few days.

Do I need a referral?

No, you do not need a referral to come to Cleveland Clinic. However, your insurance may require a referral. Be sure to check with your health care provider prior to your appointment.

How long does the surgery take?

Between one to two hours.

What causes a hernia?

A hernia occurs when the inside layers of the abdominal wall weaken then bulge or tear. The inner lining of the abdomen pushes through the weakened area to form a balloon-like sac. This, in turn, can cause a loop of intestine or abdominal tissue to slip into the sac, causing pain and other potentially serious health problems. Specifically, eighty percent of all hernias are located near the groin. Hernias may also be found below the groin (femoral), through the navel (umbilical) and along a previous incision (incisional).

How do I know if I have a hernia?

You may experience any of the following symptoms:

  • A noticeable protrusion in the groin area, or in the abdomen
  • Feeling pain while lifting
  • A dull aching sensation
  • A vague feeling of fullness

How is a hernia treated?

If a hernia causes no symptoms, you and your physician may choose to watch and see if any changes occur. A binder or support may be recommended for comfort, but does not treat the hernia. Most often surgery is required.

Will my hernia reoccur?

Approximately 5 to 10% of hernias are estimated to re-occur depending on the type of hernia. By following your physician’s recommendations following surgery, you can greatly affect your healing process and ultimate outcome.

Are there risks in delaying my surgery?

Your physician will recommend the urgency of need for surgery. In some cases, if the bowel becomes trapped in the opening caused by weakened muscles, blood flow can be blocked; causing pain to increase and often requiring prompt surgery.

Schedule an Appointment Online

Call us for an Appointment

To find a digestive specialist for your needs, contact the Digestive Disease Institute at 216.444.7000 (or toll-free 1.800.223.2273, ext. 47000)

Same-day Appointments

To arrange a same-day visit, call 216.444.7000

This information is provided by Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.

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