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Stomach and intestine specialists at Houston Methodist combine decades of expertise and advanced surgical treatments to repair hernias of every type and complexity.
A hernia is a common condition in which the tissue inside the body pushes through a weak, torn section in the muscle of the abdomen or groin. Most hernias require surgery to alleviate pain and reduce the risk of serious or life-threatening complications.
If left untreated or unmonitored, a hernia could interrupt the blood supply (strangulated hernia) or cause an infection in the affected tissue.
State-of-the-Art Hernia Repair
Our GI surgeons help large numbers of patients who are considered high risk or who need complex hernia repairs (due to complications from previous surgeries). We offer a minimally invasive procedure known as transversus abdominis release (TAR) in which surgeons use robots to assist with laparoscopic hernia repair involving the deep abdominal muscles.
Specialists at the center are skilled in every type of laparoscopic hernia repair. This minimally invasive surgery may reduce the amount of pain experienced after the operation and shorten recovery time.
Open surgery is another common and effective treatment option at the center for patients with complex hernias. Our surgeons leverage extensive experience, the latest surgical techniques and advanced imaging to perform open hernia surgery.
Nationally Recognized GI Surgeons
Patients and their families trust our experts at the center to provide patient-centric care, tailored to their unique gastrointestinal tissue needs.
Houston Methodist Hospital is ranked No. 5 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report for Gastroenterology & GI Surgery. U.S. News & World Report has also named Houston Methodist Hospital the No. 1 hospital in Texas every year since the award began and one of the nation’s best as a nationally ranked Honor Roll hospital.
Advanced Care for Every Hernia
Our multidisciplinary team provides personalized care and treatment for every type of hernia, including:
- Femoral hernia – rare, occurs on the inside of the groin near the thigh
- Hiatal hernia – occurs when the stomach bulges into the chest
- Incisional hernia – occurs after abdominal surgery at the site of the incision
- Inguinal hernia – occurs on the inside of the groin
- Umbilical hernia – occurs at the belly button, most commonly in infants
- Ventral (abdominal) hernia – includes lumbar, spigelian and epigastric hernias
Hernia Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment
What are the signs and symptoms of a hernia?
A combination of muscle weakness and strain can lead to a sudden hernia or to one that develops over a long period of time. Some hernias cause mild or uncomfortable symptoms, while others cause intense pain. It is also rare but possible to have a hernia and not realize it exists if it is asymptomatic (little or no symptoms).
While hernias often result in a visible bulge under the skin, this isn’t always the case. Symptoms of a hernia can differ for each person, depending on its type and severity.
Femoral hernia symptoms include:
- Bulge on one side of your upper groin near the thigh – often accompanied by burning or aching
- Discomfort, weakness, pressure or pain in your groin, particularly while bending
Hiatal hernia symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain
- Chest pain
Incisional hernia symptoms include:
- Bulge visible at the incision site of an abdominal surgery, often accompanied by burning or aching
- Changes in bowel habits – including constipation, diarrhea or narrow stool
- Discomfort, weakness, pressure or pain in your abdomen
- Signs of infection – including nausea or vomiting, fever and increased heart rate
Inguinal hernia symptoms include:
- Bulge visible on one side of your groin area, often accompanied by burning or aching
- Discomfort, weakness, pressure or pain in your upper groin, particularly while bending
- Swelling and discomfort around the testicles in some men
Umbilical hernia symptoms include:
- Abdominal discomfort (in adults)
- Bulge near or inside the belly button – in infants this may only be apparent when crying or coughing
- Signs of infection – including nausea or vomiting, fever or increased heart rate
- Tenderness, swelling or pain at the site of the bulge
Ventral hernia symptoms include:
- Bulge in your abdomen, often accompanied by pain
- Change in bowel habits – constipation, diarrhea or narrow (stringy) stool
- Signs of infection – nausea or vomiting, fever and increased heart rate
How is a hernia diagnosed?
Some hernias can be diagnosed with a physical exam if a bulge is visible.
Even if a hernia is identified during a physical exam, your doctor confirms the diagnosis with one or more of the following tests:
- Abdominal ultrasound
- Computerized tomography (CT) – X-ray scan
- Endoscopy – camera attached to a tube
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
Will I need surgery?
Hernias do not heal on their own and tend to grow and become more painful over time.
If a hernia is small, is not causing serious pain or discomfort and there are no signs of infection, your doctor may recommend watchful waiting (observation). During this time, your doctor closely monitors the hernia for changes and recommends surgery, when needed.
Laparoscopic Hernia Repair
Depending on your specific condition and type of hernia, your doctor may be able to perform laparoscopic hernia repair. This minimally invasive procedure uses small abdominal incisions and special tools to place stitches and a synthetic, supportive mesh that reinforces the weakened muscle after the tissue is pushed back in.
Minimally invasive procedures may reduce the amount of pain you experience after the surgery and shorten your recovery time. Many people may resume light activity after 1 to 2 weeks and strenuous activity after 4 weeks.
For patients with complex hernias, open surgery is another common and effective treatment option. Surgeons cut one long incision to repair the tissue and place a piece of supportive mesh.
A longer recovery period of 4 to 6 weeks is typically required after open surgery.
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