Surgeons at Cleveland Clinic Florida specialize in all types of hernia repair from the traditional, open technique to laparoscopic or minimally invasive surgery. An estimated five million Americans have hernias and about 700,000 patients have them surgically repaired each year. 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 or other potentially serious health problems.
While some hernias do not cause symptoms and no treatment is needed, some patients avoid treatment because they fear painful surgery. However, hernia surgery at Cleveland Clinic Florida is often performed on an outpatient basis with a minimal recovery period.
Each year, surgeons at Cleveland Clinic Florida perform hundreds of hernia repairs, affording them expertise in both common and complex cases. Most importantly, patients complete a comprehensive evaluation with a board-certified surgeon to determine the best surgical procedure to avoid repeat hernias and complications.
You may schedule an appointment online or by calling 877.463.2010.
What We Treat in South Florida
Incisional / Ventral Hernias
One type of hernia is an incisional hernia, also called a ventral hernia. Incisional or ventral hernias appear as a bulge or protrusion that occurs near or directly along the incision site of a previous abdominal operation. This can happen soon after the operation or many years later. If not repaired, an incisional hernia can cause intestinal damage and further health complications.
Inguinal hernias develop 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. The resulting bulge can be painful, especially when coughing, bending over or lifting a heavy object. While not necessarily dangerous by itself, an inguinal hernia requires treatment to prevent life-threatening complications.
About one in 10 inguinal hernia sufferers may need to have a hernia repaired again. These recurrent inguinal hernias are usually the result of trauma to the surgical site or poor tissue healing.
Complex and Recurrent Abdominal Wall Hernias
It is not unusual that hernias recur if not properly repaired. At Cleveland Clinic Florida surgeons repair large number of recurrent hernias as a result of referrals from national and international centers.
The diaphragm is a large muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen. Large hernias can develop through natural openings and weak areas creating serious symptoms such as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), pain and inability to swallow food. Utilizing minimally invasive techniques, surgeons at Cleveland Clinic Florida have pioneered techniques to repair these complex hernias.
How can a hernia be repaired?
Surgeons at Cleveland Clinic Florida offer several options to repair hernias to prevent intestinal damage and further complications. The 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.
Cleveland Clinic Florida’s surgeons have pioneered several laparoscopic approaches to repair hernias. 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 laboratory tests and an electrocardiogram (EKG) test. 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
Open Repair Surgery
An open hernia repair is performed under a local anesthetic and sedation or general anesthetic. The surgeon performs the procedure through an incision, pushing the hernia contents into its proper position behind the muscle wall. The muscle wall is then reinforced with stitches or synthetic mesh to complete the repair.
An anesthesiologist 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.
Abdominal Wall Reconstruction
For more severe or recurring incisional or ventral hernias, Cleveland Clinic Florida’s surgeons offer abdominal wall reconstruction to correct abdominal weaknesses and defects.
Open Repair Surgery
Abdominal wall reconstruction repairs abdominal tissue through an abdominal incision. If needed, your surgeon will place bio-prosthetic mesh over the open wound or hernia site, which is grafted into the abdomen and provides additional closure and support to the area.