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When Do I Need To Have My Hernia Treated?

It depends on what type of hernia you have. If you have a hernia in the group that you CAN see (Inguinal, Femoral, Umbilical, Ventral/Incisional, or one of the "other") then you need to have them repaired if they are causing symptoms.

Symptoms can range from mild pain at the site of the hernia to pain at other locations on the body as a result of the hernia. They can also cause bowel blockages (obstructions) as well as nausea and vomiting.

These hernias often start small and can grow in size and growth in size is a reason to repair them as well. Mostly, though, true determination should be made by a hernia surgeon and a good plan for when to get these repaired can be agreed upon.

If you have a hernia in the group you CANNOT see (Hiatal, Paraesophageal, diaphragm, internal, some flank hernias) then the recommendations for repair are slightly different:

  • Hiatal Hernias/Paraesophageal Hernias - these are most often repaired due to reflux esophagitis (heartburn) that is unable to be controlled with medications. They can also be repaired if they have other more subtle symptoms (chronic bronchitis, poor dentition, shortness of breath) as well but often require additional workup prior to this (EGD, manometry, pH probes).
  • Internal Hernias/Flank Hernias/Diaphragm Hernias - should all be repaired when they are found. Due to the nature of these hernias, the complications are too great should problems occur and when found they should be repaired immediately.

A decision should be tailored for each individual. "One size fits all" is not a good model for any surgical care, especially in hernia repair. Some patients may have other medical or previous surgical issues that would change the above recommendations.

Consultation with a hernia specialist should not only concentrate on the presence of the hernia, but on the overall condition of the patient and their desires for the outcome of the repair.