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What to do if you have a hernia?

More than 20 million patients worldwide undergo surgery for an inguinal hernia every year. The surgical repair of inguinal hernias is therefore one of the most commonly performed surgeries worldwide. There are various treatment approaches and a multitude of different surgical techniques for inguinal hernia repair. Optimal treatment outcomes are characterized by a low recurrence rate (the reappearance of a hernia after surgery) and a low rate of patients experiencing postoperative chronic groin pain. These two, recurrence and chronic groin pain, are the most common issues following a successful inguinal hernia surgery.

The presence of an inguinal hernia can typically be diagnosed solely through a physical examination by the treating surgeon. Rarely, an ultrasound examination may be necessary as well. Diagnosis can be more difficult in women. A CT scan may occasionally be necessary to confirm the diagnosis.

If the inguinal hernia causes symptoms, surgical treatment should always be carried out. A plastic mesh is usually inserted during the operation. This can be done either through an incision in the groin or via “keyhole surgery” through three small incisions in the abdomen.

As a man with an inguinal hernia, you do not necessarily need to undergo immediate surgery if the hernia is not causing you any physical discomfort. The risk of intestinal strangulation in the hernia sac and the need for emergency surgery associated with it is low in men. However, the majority of patients without symptoms eventually develop them over the course of their lives, usually in the form of pain, which necessitates surgery at a later time.

Women are recommended to undergo timely surgical repair even in the absence of symptoms from the inguinal hernia. The reason for this is that in women, compared to men, the risk of life-threatening incarceration is significantly higher. In considering whether to undergo surgery, it’s important to note that access to medical care is not as well guaranteed everywhere in the world as it is in Austria. In such cases, an incarcerated inguinal hernia, for instance during a holiday trip abroad, can potentially have fatal consequences.

TheFranziskusspital Margareten (former Hartmannspital) is currently the only certified hernia center in Vienna. The high standard is ensured by a large number of surgeries performed annually and the corresponding necessary regular quality control by the German Society for Surgery.

As a senior physician and part of the hernia team at Franziskus Hospital Margareten, I am more than happy to provide you with detailed advice and work with you to develop a therapy tailored to your needs. If surgery is necessary, I will be happy to organize a timely operation date tailored to your individual needs.

OA Dr. med. univ. Matthias Hofmann is a specialist in general surgery and visceral surgery, specializing in hernia surgery.