Our expert Hernia and Vascular Consultant, Mr Syed Tahir Hussain, answers your questions about using mesh in a hernia repair and why he considers it the most effective treatment option for a hernia. He’s part of our specialist London Hernia Clinic at St John & St Elizabeth Hospital, which diagnoses and treats all types of hernia.
How common are hernias?
A hernia is when an internal organ or other body part protrudes through the wall of muscle or tissue that normally contains it. Stats show that at least one in ten people will develop a hernia at some point during their lifetime, and it’s one of the most common surgical procedures in the world. The most common type of hernia is called an inguinal hernia (about 70% of cases), which is seen more often in males than females. This type of hernia happens when fatty tissue, or part of the intestine, pokes through the groin at the top of the inner thigh.
What are the symptoms of a hernia?
Most hernias happen in the abdomen, between the chest and the hips. Early symptoms include a lump, bulge, or swelling in the abdomen (this could be around your belly button or diaphragm) or around your groin and upper thigh area. This lump can cause discomfort or pain, especially when coughing, sneezing, or lifting heavy objects. It’s most noticeable when standing, as the body part or tissue can slip back through the hole when you’re lying down.
When should you get help for a hernia?
If you notice a lump or have pain in your groin, make an appointment with your GP. Hernias are usually diagnosed immediately after careful examination, and your GP will refer you to a specialist if they suspect you have one. It’s important to see an expert if you think you might have a hernia so that can get it treated straight away.
A hernia should be fixed as soon as possible, either surgically or nonsurgically. If it isn’t, it could have life-threatening consequences, such as:
- Peritonitis-(an infection of the inner lining of your tummy
- Bowel perforation – a hole in your colon which leads to the contents of your digestive tract leaking out;and
- Strangulation – this is when the blood supply to the hernia is cut off. This strangulated tissue can release toxins and infection into the bloodstream, which could lead to sepsis or even death.
It’s crucial to repair hernias because of the risk of complications and also because they can be incredibly painful. Discomfort from a hernia can interfere with your daily life and make everyday tasks much harder.
What are the treatment options for hernias?
Hernias are most commonly treated with surgery because they don’t go away by themselves. Surgery involves making a cut near the hernia and pushing the tissue or organ that’s poking out back into place. The tissue round the hernia is then strengthened with stitches or synthetic mesh to help prevent another hernia from happening. Our experts in the London Hernia Clinic at St John & St Elizabeth Hospital agree that the most effective treatment for hernias is repairing them with mesh.
What is surgical mesh and what are the benefits of using it with hernia repair?
Surgical mesh is a medical device which looks like a sheet and is made from either animal-derived or synthetic materials. It’s used to support weakened or damaged tissue due to a hernia, and helps prevent a recurrence.
Almost one-third of hernias came back before hernia repair with mesh was introduced. Using mesh during hernia surgery has reduced the recurrence rate to less than 5%, and in many cases – including our own – to less than 1%!
What complications can arise from mesh hernia repair?
There are risks involved with any procedure, and 10% of patients who have their hernia repaired with mesh can experience chronic pain in the affected area for quite some time post-surgery. However, the benefits greatly outweigh the risks in this situation. There could be severe complications if you choose to opt-out of mesh hernia repair – including bowel obstruction and strangulation.
Are there any alternative treatment options, and what are the risks involved?
Before using mesh for hernia repair was a thing, surgeons relied on the darn technique. This method uses large amounts of suture material to weave the hernia back through the abdominal wall and patch up the hole. The suture material isn’t as strong as the mesh reinforcements, and so the recurrence rate can be more than 30%.
What to expect after hernia repair with mesh
The recovery period varies, but most people will leave hospital just a few hours after surgery and feel fine within a few days. After any surgery, you should avoid vigorous activity and exercise for four to six weeks to make sure you heal properly and make the best recovery possible.
The benefits of our Hernia Clinic
When you come to our London Hernia Clinic, you can trust that you’re in expert hands and will receive the best and most effective treatment. Our team of consultants diagnose and treat hernias all the time and have extensive experience with diverse and complex cases. London Hernia provides state-of-the-art facilities and equipment, and we use the most advanced mesh repair techniques.
Make an appointment at the London Hernia Clinic
We have a team of seven world-leading consultants, including Mr Syed Tahir Hussain, who make up the London Hernia Clinic. To book an appointment with Mr Syed Tahir Hussain, or one of our specialist hernia consultants, please call 020 3370 1014 or email [email protected]