A hernia can trigger immense pain that can become debilitating if left untreated, but living with this pain can be a thing of the past thanks to advanced hernia repair techniques.


A hernia occurs when tissue pushes through an opening in the abdomen (ventral hernia) or groin area (inguinal hernia). Common symptoms include pain in the abdomen when coughing, bending, twisting or lifting objects; a bulge or lump in the abdomen or groin; heaviness, weakness or dull pain in the groin or abdomen; nausea, vomiting or both; and an inability to have a bowel movement or pass gas.


Dr. Robert Ochoa, a critical care/general surgeon with Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital, says there are many possible hernia causes.


“Hernias may be caused by a variety of factors, including congenital defects, age, chronic coughing, damage from injury or surgery, or lifting heavy objects. Pregnant women may be susceptible to hernia due to the pressure placed on the abdomen,” Ochoa said.


While many people attempt to deal with a hernia by putting up with the pain, the agony often becomes too much to bear and begins to negatively affect their daily life. Ochoa utilizes robot-assisted, minimally invasive surgical procedures to repair hernias and eliminate the pain.


Robotic-assisted surgery gives surgeons the ability to utilize the pinpoint accuracy of the device’s robotic arms, as well as a 3-D view of the surgical area and increased magnification, to perform minimally invasive surgeries that produce small incisions, less post-surgical pain and quicker recovery times.


“The system gives surgeons a magnified, 3-D view of the incision site and allows us to control multiple robotic arms for more precise movements,” Ochoa said. “In the past, these procedures required open surgery, which resulted in larger incisions, increased pain and a longer recovery.”


Robotic-assisted surgery allows the surgeon to operate from a console while viewing a three-dimensional image of the surgical field. It translates the surgeon's hand, wrist and finger movements into precise movements of tiny surgical instruments inside the patient’s body. It allows surgeons to perform minimally invasive laparoscopic—surgery that uses a thin, lighted tube inserted through very small incisions—procedures.


“The system increases the degree of freedom ergonomically because now you have multiple instruments functioning as your hands,” Ochoa said. “It allows us to perform major surgeries through dime-sized incisions. The system’s camera allows me to see things I normally wouldn’t be able to.”


Other benefits of robotic-assisted procedures include less post-surgical pain, lower risk of infection; reduced loss of blood, which reduces the need for transfusion during surgery; and a shorter hospital stay.


To ensure your safety, Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital is taking every necessary precaution during the coronavirus pandemic to keep you and our staff members safe, including, screening all patients, ensuring only those without COVID-19 symptoms are seen in the office; wearing masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) while providing patient care; reorganizing waiting rooms and check-in lines to ensure social distancing, and implementing additional sanitation processes to disinfect all equipment and surfaces.


Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital features 15 state-of-the-art operating rooms. In addition to hernia repair, Ochoa provides surgical expertise to treat a wide range of conditions, including Crohn’s disease, gallstones, appendectomy, cancer and biliary disease.


For more information and to schedule an appointment, call 832.556.6046, or visit houstonmethodist.org/baytown