Hernias in adults do not resolve on their own and may require surgery to correct. There are multiple approaches to fixing hernias including open, laparoscopic and robotic surgery. A surgeon will determine and discuss the optimal strategy after evaluating impacting factors, such as hernia size, medical history, and surgical history.
For select hernia surgeries, a surgeon may need to use mesh to repair the defect in the abdominal wall. The mesh may be placed on top of the muscle layer, below the muscle layer or in the muscle layer. The mesh makes the hernia repair stronger to reduce the chance of it coming back.
This involves making an incision in the area of a hernia to push the hernia contents back into the abdominal cavity. The defect may be closed with a combination of stitches and mesh. This is often needed for larger or more complex hernias, or for patients with many prior operations.
“Keyhole” surgery is done through a series of small incisions. This method allows the physician to look around the abdomen to assess a hernia. While an excellent way to repair hernias for many patients, there are limitations to this type of surgery.
This is also “keyhole" surgery, but in this instance, a robot is used by the surgeon to fix a hernia. The robot's arms allow for greater flexibility than what is available via traditional laparoscopic techniques. This greater flexibility allows the surgeon to accomplish complicated tasks like internal sutures.Additionally, the robotic platform gives the surgeon a 3D high definition view of the inside of the abdomen. This enhanced vision can help with precision.
In recent years, there has been a great increase in the use of the surgical robot for hernia repairs. This is because there are some techniques, often called “abdominal wall reconstruction,” which require a lot of sewing and dissection. Some of these techniques are made much easier by using the surgical robot. In fact, many procedures previously performed with a large incision are now less invasive due to the use of surgical robots. This has led to speedier recoveries for many patients, including shorter hospital stays, reduced pain, less need for pain medications, and less scarring.
As we shared, there are multiple approaches to repairing hernias: open surgery, laparoscopic surgery, and robotic surgery. Over 1,300 hernia procedures were performed at Emory Healthcare in 2016. That includes 150 robotic hernia repairs.