Is Surgery Always Necessary to Repair an Inguinal Hernia?

Inguinal hernia repair is necessary when a loop of the intestine becomes trapped or strangulated; hernias that are painless and able to be pushed back into the abdomen do not require surgical repair unless other problems occur, according to WebMD. Some patients with small hernias may never need surgery.

Inguinal hernias tend to grow larger over time due to weakening of the abdominal muscle wall that allows a progressively larger amount of the intestine to protrude, explains WebMD. As a result, sometimes the intestine becomes trapped in the hernia sac and no longer flattens with pressure. Surgery is required to fix this but can be scheduled at the patient’s convenience as long as there are no other symptoms. In some cases, the intestine becomes trapped so tightly that blood flow through the intestine is cut off. This is a medical emergency, and surgery must take place as soon as possible to avoid tissue damage.

There are two types of surgery for an inguinal hernia, Mayo Clinic reports. With the traditional method, known as an open hernia repair, the recovery time is longer and typically results in more scarring. The second type of surgery is a laparoscopy. This procedure allows a patient to return to normal activity sooner but has a greater risk of complications and recurrence.