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Hernias happen when an internal part of the body pushes through a weakness in surrounding muscle or tissue.
Hernias can happen anywhere in your body, but they can be found most commonly between your chest and hips. A hernia forms a lump which you should be able to push back in and which disappears when you lie down. The lump may appear if you cough or strain.
There are four main types of hernia:
For most, hernias do not present with any symptoms other than the lump itself. However, if you experience a number of symptoms including sudden, severe pain, vomiting, constipation or wind, a tenderness in the area of the hernia and being unable to push the hernia back in, this may mean that your hernia has become ‘strangulated’ and you should seek immediate medical treatment.
If you suspect you have a hernia, your first port of call should be to your GP who can assess you. He or she may decide that you need treatment, in which case you will be referred for a surgical consultation.
We specialise in keyhole (laparoscopic) and open surgery; keyhole surgery uses smaller incisions (cuts) but is more difficult, involving several smaller cuts which allow the surgeon to use various special instruments to repair the hernia.
Between two and four small incisions are made through the abdominal wall through which the surgeon passes a thin telescope with a light on the end (called a laparoscope) and the instruments needed to carry out the procedure.
The laparoscope allows the surgeon to see the hernia and observe the surgery, which is done through the incisions using long thin instruments.
The hernia and/or hole are covered with mesh from within the abdomen and staples are used to fix the mesh to the muscle tissue.
For an open repair, a single cut is made over the hernia; the hernia is replaced within the abdomen (tummy) and repaired with a mesh. This technique is still the most common hernia repair technique in Britain.
The procedure takes between 30 and 45 minutes for a routine groin hernia, but potentially much longer for an incisional hernia.
In most cases you will go home on the day of surgery and our team will give you post-discharge advice and support to ensure that your hernia repair heals properly. We usually do not need to see you after the operation but will telephone you to make sure you are recovering well. If you have followed our advice you should make a full recovery in a few weeks.
Irrespective of what type of hernia repair you require, complications are more likely if you’re over 50, you have another illness (such as heart disease or breathing problems), you’re overweight or you smoke.
A pre-operative assessment is our opportunity to ensure that the procedure for which you have been referred is right for you. We’ll explain your treatment to you and make sure that you are well enough to go ahead with it. It is also your opportunity to meet the team who will care for you and to ask any questions.
We carry out all the necessary tests and examinations in one outpatient session, except for specialised imaging tests which may require a repeat visit. While this can take several hours, everything is done in one go to save frequent visits before surgery.
Hernia repair surgery is often available on the NHS and where it is we will treat you as an NHS patient. In order to be treated at our Bristol based Emersons Green NHS Treatment Centre you will need to be examined and referred to us for treatment by your GP. Remember, it is your right to choose where you receive your NHS treatment and we are part of that choice – if we are not offered as a choice do not be afraid to ask for a referral to us if you would prefer to come here for treatment. NHS treatment for cosmetic reasons is not available. Call us on 0333 999 7641 or write to us via the contact form.
Where hernia repair is not available on the NHS, or where the number of NHS procedures available has been reduced and has resulted in a longer waiting time, you can choose to pay for your treatment yourself via our self pay option.
Self pay is available if you find you are not eligible for NHS-funded care and do not have private medical insurance.
Self pay is available for you at Emersons Green NHS Treatment Centre in Bristol if you find you are not eligible for NHS-funded care and do not have private medical insurance. You will need an open referral letter from your GP (we can help you with this – just call 0330 053 6445). Because we don’t include all of the costly extras you may associate with private hospital treatment, paying for yourself could cost you considerably less than you might imagine too. There are also financing options available, to help you spread the cost. Find out more here: Self pay information.