Hernia Repair

A hernia is a tear in the muscle or tissue wall that holds an organ in place. This tear allows the organ to push through the wall, creating a bulge that is often visible outside the body. Hernias can be painful and are sometimes medically risky if the organ gets trapped in the tear and suffers from reduced blood flow. This condition, known as incarceration, can result in tissue death and a life-threatening infection.

Hernias are mostly associated with the abdominal region. The following types are common:

  • Femoral and inguinal hernias: outer and inner groin

  • Hiatal hernia: upper stomach

  • Incisional hernia: earlier surgical site

  • Umbilical hernia: navel.

Hernia repair can be conducted by means of open surgery, minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery, or minimally invasive robot-assisted surgery. In robot-assisted hernia-repair surgery, the medical team uses sophisticated tools that replicate human movement and enhance surgical performance. Robot-assisted hernia repair operations are performed at several Baptist Health facilities in Kentucky and Indiana.

Benefits of Robotic Surgery

It is important to note that a robotic procedure does not mean being operated on by a machine, rather than a fellow human. Robotic procedures are robot-assisted procedures, where the robot is a group of tools used by a surgeon and his or her medical team to aid in an operation. These tools are called robots because they mimic human motions and movements, sometimes with greater precision and less fatigue than we’re capable of.

Robotic surgery offers the following benefits:

  • Smaller incisions than with open surgery, and therefore less blood loss

  • Reduced scarring

  • Lower risk of infection

  • Decreased post-surgical pain

  • Shorter hospital stays

  • Quicker recovery times

  • Faster return to normal living

How Does Robot-assisted Hernia Repair Work?

At Baptist Health, robot-assisted hernia repairs are performed with the aid of the Intuitive da Vinci system. Intuitive is a leading American manufacturer of medical robots and related equipment.

The Intuitive da Vinci system has three parts:

  • A multi-armed robot for inserting cameras and other surgical instruments in the patient.

  • A vision cart with endoscopic monitors that provide the surgeon with magnified, three-dimensional, real-time images of the surgical site within the body.

  • A computerized panel from which the surgeon controls the robot and performs the procedure.

Robotic hernia repair is conducted similarly to laparoscopic and other forms of minimally invasive surgery. The surgeon makes tiny incisions for the insertion of a camera – the surgeon’s eyes during the procedure – and the other instruments required for the operation. The surgeon locates the muscle tear, strengthens it with a synthetic mesh, and then stitches it back together. Because this is a robot-assisted procedure, each of these steps is accomplished with greater precision than by a human operating alone because robot technology downscales the surgeon’s hand motions to extremely fine movements, reducing the possibility of organ or tissue damage.

Joining the surgeon and the robot in the operating room are the entire surgical team, including the anesthesiologist, the nurses, and a second surgeon or surgical assistant for moving the robot into positions that aren’t mechanically controlled.

What to Expect with Robot-assisted Hernia Repair

The surgical procedure will take place with you lying on your back. You will be given anesthesia, so that you’ll be unconscious the whole time. The operation will be conducted by means of small incisions, through which the visual equipment and surgical instruments will be introduced. These incisions will be much smaller than those required by open surgery, reducing the possibility of infection, lessening post-operative pain, and speeding recovery.

Hernia repair procedures are often handled on an outpatient basis. Others require a short hospital stay of one or two days.

The recovery period for hernia repair is typically two to four weeks. Your physical activity will be limited while the incisions heal. Some pain medication may be required. Your doctor will discuss with you the specifics of your post-operative treatment following your procedure.

Know Your Risk

Baptist Health is committed to being a leading medical provider of robot-assisted diagnosis and surgery in Kentucky and Southern Indiana. If you have questions or concerns about a possible hernia, contact your Baptist Health primary care provider.