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The Benefits of Robotic Hernia Surgery

When Michael felt a lump in his abdomen, he knew he needed to see a doctor. He was diagnosed with a hernia.

Traditionally, hernias are repaired using open surgery that requires a large incision. Laparoscopic surgery is less invasive but requires a surgeon with specialized training. Click Robotic Hernia Surgery to learn more.

Robotic hernia surgery uses a robot to repair hernia through small cuts (an incision). Your surgeon controls the robotic arms and instruments from a console next to your bed.

What is a hernia?

A hernia results from a portion of an organ, usually the intestine or abdominal fat, protruding through a weak spot in the muscles that contain it. It causes a bulge in the affected area, and may cause severe pain or even life-threatening complications if not promptly repaired. Most hernias aren’t preventable, but certain lifestyle changes can help lower your risk of hernia formation.

Hernia surgery aims to repair the hernia by pushing back the protruding tissue and reinforcing the muscle wall that contains it. Hernia surgery is often less painful than other surgical procedures and can lead to a faster recovery period. Traditionally, hernias have been repaired using open surgery, which involves making a large incision in the abdomen to push back the herniated tissue and sew it to the surrounding muscle. Laparoscopic hernia repair is a minimally invasive alternative, but requires specialized training for surgeons to perform.

Robotic hernia surgery uses a special da Vinci system, which allows surgeons to operate through small incisions while viewing the surgical site on a console next to them. The surgeon’s finger movements on the console are translated into precise, delicate maneuvers by the robotic system, which also provides a high-definition, 3D view of the surgery site.

Your surgeon will first inflate the abdomen with a harmless gas, which makes it easier for them to work. Then, they’ll maneuver the robot through the incisions to access the hernia. Once they’ve pushed the herniated tissue back into place and strengthened the surrounding muscle, they’ll close the incisions. Patients can typically return to their normal activities within a week, though some soreness may persist for a while. Patients should avoid strenuous activity and heavy lifting until their surgeon has given them the go-ahead.

Hiatal hernia

A hiatal hernia happens when part of your stomach pushes up through a weak spot in the diaphragm. Traditionally, this is repaired with open surgery through large incisions. Laparoscopic hernia repair is a less-invasive alternative but still requires surgery with specialized instruments. Robotic hernia surgery is an advanced version that combines the benefits of both procedures.

During robotic hernia surgery, your doctor inflates your abdomen with a harmless gas (carbon dioxide). Your surgeon is seated at a console and controls miniaturized surgical tools that introduce themselves through tiny incisions. The robotic arms mimic the movements of your surgeon’s hand, allowing for greater precision. The system also offers enhanced visualization through a high-definition camera and wristed instruments.

With the help of this technology, your doctor can close the hole in your diaphragm and reinforce the area with mesh. This prevents the hernia from returning. Your surgeon can also tighten the junction between your stomach and esophagus (called a fundoplication), which may prevent acid reflux from occurring.

Following your hernia surgery, you may need to stay in the hospital for 1-2 days. Your doctor will provide pain and anti-inflammatory medications to address any discomfort. You will be instructed to eat only liquids and soft foods at first, followed by gradually increasing the amount of solid food you can eat.

You can usually resume most normal activities within a week or two of your operation. Your doctor will tell you when it is safe to return to work and other strenuous activities, but you should wait until you are off of narcotic pain medication before attempting any heavy lifting. A full recovery from hernia surgery typically takes 10-12 weeks.

Inguinal hernia

Unlike a hiatal hernia, which occurs within the chest, an inguinal hernia occurs at the groin area. It appears as a rounded bulge that is sometimes painful for patients. Compared to traditional open surgery, robotic hernia repair is less invasive and has fewer complications.

The surgeon uses a console to manipulate the robot, which carries out every motion that the surgeon makes from the bedside. The robotic surgery also provides surgeons with a better range of motion and more detailed visualization, which reduces the chance of damage to nearby organs or tissue.

Before surgery, your child will be given general anesthesia to relax the muscles and prevent pain. The doctor will make a small cut (incision) in your child’s groin, then push the hernia back into the abdomen and close the opening in the inguinal canal to prevent another hernia. Then the doctor will put a piece of surgical mesh into the abdominal wall to provide support and prevent the hernia from returning.

After the procedure, your child will go home the same day, although they may stay in the hospital overnight if their surgery is more complex. They will need someone to drive them and help them with the post-surgery recovery. It is important to rest after hernia surgery, as it can take several weeks for the hernia to recover and heal. They should also avoid strenuous physical activity, eat a well-balanced diet and attend all follow-up appointments.

While robotic hernia surgery is a safe, effective treatment for many hernias, it’s not right for everyone. Certain types of hernias, medical illnesses or previous surgeries can increase the risk of complications. Additionally, hernias can recur even after surgery, especially for smokers and obese patients.

Ventral hernia

A venetral hernia is a bulge on the abdomen where fat or intestine pushes through the muscle wall of the abdominal cavity. It is sometimes painful. Pain may be felt when straining during activities, such as urinating or passing stool. Ventral hernias often get bigger over time. If left untreated, fat or a portion of the intestine could become entrapped in the hernia and can’t be pushed back into place (irreducible hernia). This is a medical emergency. The area will become painful or red and the bowel tissue can turn blue from lack of blood supply (strangulation). It is important to contact your doctor and receive surgery as soon as possible.

During robotic hernia repair, your surgeon sits at a console and controls small instruments through tiny incisions. The da Vinci system responds to your surgeon’s hand movements, translating them into precise movements of the surgical instruments. This allows your surgeon to perform hernia repair with precision and accuracy, reducing complications and hernia recurrence.

The surgery uses a special hernia mesh to support the muscle wall. The hernia is repaired by pushing the weakened or herniated tissue back in and then placing a polypropylene mesh that will support future tissue growth. Your surgeon places the hernia mesh through a 12 mm port at the belly button and two 8 mm ports on either side of your stomach.

Robotic hernia surgery is a safe and effective treatment for most patients. There are some situations in which your surgeon may need to switch from the robotic procedure to the open surgery technique, such as if you’re obese or have previous abdominal surgeries that have caused dense scar tissue. The surgeon will make this decision based on sound surgical judgment and for your safety.

Incisional hernia

Surgical incisions (cuts) usually heal well. But when a hole or weakness in the abdominal wall occurs, the contents of your abdomen push through that area and form a lump under the skin called an incisional hernia.

You have several options for hernia repair surgery, including open surgery and laparoscopic surgery. But robotic hernia repair offers many benefits that other surgeries don’t offer.

In robotic hernia repair, the surgeon makes only a few small cuts in your belly. They then insert a tubelike instrument with a camera, called a laparoscope, into one of the incisions. The camera shows the internal images on a monitor, which helps the surgeon see their work better. The surgeon then uses other tools inserted into the other incisions to repair the hernia.

Robotic hernia repair is less invasive than traditional surgery, with faster recovery times and fewer complications. But it’s not right for everyone. Your doctor will assess your health and determine whether robotic hernia repair is safe for you.

After your robotic hernia surgery, you may have some pain and bruising at the incision sites. You can take over-the-counter NSAIDs to control your pain. Ask your doctor if you need to stay in the hospital overnight.

Every surgical procedure has risks, including anesthesia, infection, bleeding and damage to surrounding tissue. The risks of robotic hernia surgery are similar to those of other surgical procedures, but they depend on the experience and skill of your surgeon. Call your doctor if you have severe pain, fever, pus or redness around an incision site. Infection in the hernia area may require antibiotics or other treatment. Follow-up visits are important for monitoring your hernia and preventing it from getting bigger or returning.