Your doctor will determine which type of surgery is best for you and how long you need to stay in the hospital or surgical center based on certain factors. These include your diagnosis, age, medical history, general health, and possibly your personal preference. Learn about the different hernia repair procedures and ask why your doctor will use a particular type of procedure for you.
Types of anesthesia that may be used
Your surgeon will perform a hernia repair using a nerve block or general anesthesia.
- General anesthesia is a combination of intravenous (IV) medications and gases that put you in a special type of sleep. During general anesthesia, you are unaware of the procedure and will not feel any pain. In some cases, you may also receive a peripheral nerve block infusion in addition to general anesthesia. This type of anesthesia involves an injection or a continuous drip of a liquid anesthetic, which flows through a tiny tube inserted near your surgical site to control pain during and after surgery.
- A nerve block is also known as regional anesthesia, an epidural, or spinal anesthesia. For regional anesthesia, your anesthesiologist or certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) injects an anesthetic medication around certain nerves in the spine so you do not feel anything below the waist. You will be awake, but kept as comfortable as possible during this procedure.
What to expect the day of your hernia repair
The day of your surgery, you can generally expect to:
- Talk with a pre-operative nurse. The nurse will perform an exam and ensure that all needed tests are in order. The nurse can also answer questions and will make sure that you sign the surgical consent.
- Remove all clothing and jewelry and dress in a hospital gown. It is a good idea to leave all jewelry and valuables at home or with a family member if possible. The surgical team will respect your privacy and give you blankets for modesty and warmth in the surgical suite.
- Talk with the anesthesiologist or certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) about your medical history and the type of anesthesia you will receive.
- A surgical team member will start an IV.
- The anesthesiologist or CRNA will start your anesthesia.
- For general anesthesia, your anesthesiologist or CRNA will place a tube in your lungs to protect and control your breathing.
- A team member may also insert a tube through your nose to keep your stomach empty and a catheter into your bladder to collect urine and monitor kidney function. You will not feel or remember this or the surgical procedure.
- The surgical team will monitor your vital signs and other critical body functions. This occurs throughout the procedure and your recovery until you are alert, breathing effectively, and your vital signs are stable.
What are the risks and potential complications of a hernia repair?
Any surgical procedure involves risks and potential complications. Complications may become serious and life threatening in some cases. Complications can develop during the procedure or throughout your recovery.
General risks of surgery
The general risks of surgical procedures include:
- Adverse reaction or problems related to anesthesia, such as an allergic reaction and problems with breathing
- Bleeding, which can lead to shock
- Blood clots, in particular a deep vein thrombosis that develops in the leg or pelvis. A blood clot can travel to your lungs, heart or brain and cause a pulmonary embolism, heart attack, or stroke.
- Infection and septicemia, which is the spread of a local infection to the blood
Potential complications of a hernia repair
Complications of a hernia repair can be serious. You can best reduce the risk of potential complications and help manage complications if any occur by following the treatment plan you and your surgeon design specifically for you. Potential complications include:
- Nerve damage, which can lead to tingling or numbness in the groin and upper thigh
- Organ, blood vessel, or bowel damage
- Pain lasting longer than three months
- Recurrence of hernia
- Testicular pain or swelling
- Urinary retention or inability to urinate
© Copyright 2012 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. For specific medical advice, diagnoses and treatment, consult your doctor.