Potential Complications of Hernias
Hernias themselves are not dangerous nor are they life-threatening. However, hernias can lead to a number of problems such as groin pain, back pain, inner thigh pain, scrotal swelling, and intestinal obstruction. Rarely, untreated hernias can progress from intestinal obstruction to true vascular compromise of the intestinal tissues. When this occurs, it becomes a true surgical emergency resulting in the need for immediate emergency surgery which may necessitate removal of a portion of the intestines which have become non-viable as a result of the compromise. Hernias should be repaired upon diagnosis. Within a controlled setting, elective hernia surgery is an outpatient procedure with excellent results and minimal discomfort. The era of laparoscopic (minimally invasive) surgery has resulted in greatly reduced pain, improved cosmesis and better long-term results.
Primary vs. Recurrent Hernia
A primary hernia is a hernia that occurs for the first time. A recurrent hernia (also known as a secondary hernia) is a hernia that returns, or recurs, after having been repaired before.
Appropriate treatment for abdominal wall hernias depends not only on hernia location but also on whether or not the hernia has been repaired (or had an attempt at repair) in the past. Recurrent hernias recur for a reason. Sometimes hernias recur because an inadequate technique was used during the primary repair. However, even superior surgical technique sometimes is inadequate to prevent hernia recurrence. Recurrent hernias have a much higher risk for occurring yet again. Therefore, the threshold for using non-absorbable mesh reinforcement for the repair of recurrent hernias is much lower.