Open Hernia Repair Surgery

The type of anesthesia utilized during open hernia repair surgery depends on the patient's and the physician's preference, as well as the health of the patient. Choice of anesthesia includes general, which renders the patient unconscious and prevents memory of the surgery; epidural or spinal, which numbs a large area of the body; and local, which numbs the immediate area around the hernia. Local and spinal anesthetics are often used with sedation, which induces drowsiness.

Once the anesthesia has taken effect, the area around the hernia is cleaned thoroughly with an antiseptic solution to prevent postoperative infection. The surgeon makes an incision near the location of the hernia. For an inguinal hernia, the incision is made just above the crease where the abdomen meets the thigh. To repair an umbilical hernia, it is made close to the navel. If the hernia has occurred at the site of a previous operation, the incision from that surgery is reopened.

Surgery proceeds in much the same way, regardless of where the incision is made. The hernia sac is carefully opened and the intestine or other tissue is placed back inside the abdomen. The weakened area is repaired and reinforced with a synthetic mesh or a suture that pulls the abdominal muscle tissue back together. The entire procedure takes about 1 hour in adults and 30 minutes in children.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 31 Oct 2001

Last Modified: 18 Sep 2015