Laparoscopic Inguinal Hernia Repair

What is an inguinal hernia?Medical illustration of an inguinal hernia

Inguinal hernia occurs when a portion of the small intestine enters the inguinal canal.

An inguinal hernia is when a loop of intestine enters the inguinal canal, a tubular passage through the lower layers of the abdominal wall.

A hernia occurs when part of an organ (usually the intestine) protrudes through a weak point or tear in the thin muscular wall that holds the abdominal organs in place. In men, an inguinal hernia can develop in the groin near the scrotum.

A direct inguinal hernia creates a bulge in the groin area, and an indirect hernia descends into the scrotum. Inguinal hernias occur less often in women than men. Usually, there is no apparent cause of a hernia, although they are sometimes associated with heavy lifting.

Inguinal hernias are also seen in infants and children. Hernias can occur when a portion of the peritoneum (the lining around all the organs in the abdomen) does not close properly before birth. This causes a small portion of the intestine to push out into the opening (a bulge might be seen in the groin or scrotum).

Inguinal hernias can restrict blood supply to the bowel herniated through the defect, creating a medical emergency.

What are the symptoms of an inguinal hernia?

  • Groin discomfort or groin pain aggravated by bending or lifting.
  • A tender groin lump or scrotum lump.
  • A bulge or lump is usually seen in children.

How is a laparoscopic inguinal hernia repair performed?

During a laparoscopic hernia repair, a surgeon makes small incisions in the abdominal wall, and the abdomen is inflated with carbon dioxide. A laparoscope (a thin, tube-like instrument with a small video camera) and surgical instruments are then inserted through the incisions. While viewing a monitor, the surgeon pushes the herniated intestine back into place and repairs the hernia opening with surgical staples. Mesh is then placed over the defect to reinforce the abdominal wall. General anesthesia is used.

What are the advantages of the laparoscopic approach?

There are many advantages to this approach, including quicker recovery and shorter hospital stays, as well as a significantly reduced risk of infection and recurrence.

Patients usually go home within 24 hours after laparoscopic repair as opposed to a longer hospital stay after open repair, and report less pain and quicker return to normal activity.

Why should patients come to the University of Maryland Medical Center for a hernia repair?

At the University of Maryland Hernia Center, patients receive the most advanced surgical care from doctors who are leaders in the field of hernia repair.

The UM Hernia Center specializes in using the most advanced minimally invasive (laparoscopic) techniques to treat all types of hernias. Our surgeons excel in treating both complex cases -- such as recurrent hernias -- and more routine cases.

If you would like to make an appointment or talk to someone about our services, please call 1-800-492-5538 (patients) or 1-800-373-4111 (physicians).