According to the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons, or SAGES, over 600,000 Americans undergo surgery to treat a colon disease each year. Although their conditions range, the most common procedures that they have to go through include colectomies, colostomies, and hemorrhoidectomies. As far as diseases that these individuals face, the more prominent ones are diverticulitis, inflammatory bowel disease, colorectal cancer, and polyps.
Outside of these conditions, another extremely common procedure that relates to a similar area of the body is hernia repair. Since there is seldom any other way to treat this problem, it comes as no surprise that over a million hernia surgeries take place in the U.S. annually.
As many as 800,000 of those relate to inguinal hernias where someone’s intestine bulges through their weakened abdominal wall in the groin area. Many surgeons who handle colon procedures, also known as colorectal surgeons, repair hernias as well.
How Colon Surgeries Work
According to a seasoned veteran of general and colorectal surgery, Dr. Matthew Finnegan, there are many ways in which the vast majority of colon surgeries take place. The one of which is much more invasive, is the open colectomy. In this case, the surgeon makes an incision in the patient’s abdomen, thus, getting access to their colon. The most common cases treated by the laparoscopic approach are those in which a part or entirety of the colon must be removed. So, the only way for the surgeon to properly disconnect the surrounding tissue is to gain full access to the colon. This can be done in a non or less invasive fashion in most cases.
The laparoscopic colectomy that is a lot less invasive. Courtesy of modern medicine, the surgeon makes a few incisions that allow them to put a camera inside of the abdomen to guide themselves. This is how most hernia repairs work since there is no need to perform open surgery for a minor correction.
You should note that there is no clear-cut blueprint for the type of procedure that you may have to undergo. The reason why is that your condition dictates the approach that the surgeon will take. For example, even though most inguinal hernias are same-day procedures that are minimally invasive, there are cases where the patient’s situation is a lot more complex than it seems. So, although it may begin as a small incision, the medical expert could end up converting to open surgery to properly resolve the issue.
This is fairly uncommon, however, as the vast majority of diagnoses rely on things like ultrasounds and various forms of scanning that decrease the odds of missing anything unusual. Some patients may not be good candidates for a non-invasive approach because of there complex anatomy or medical history. For instance, an elderly patient with longstanding heart or lung disease may not be able to have general anesthesia which is required for laparoscopic surgery. The patient could however have a minimally invasive(smaller) incision, open approach under local or regional anesthesia to repair a hernia.
The Recovery Process
The recovery process for any type of colon surgery will depend on the degree of invasiveness and the preoperative diagnosis. As someone who handles a lot of complicated procedures that are not extremely common, Dr. Matthew Finnegan often works with patients whose recovery times are on the higher end of the spectrum. In addition, he also cares for more straight forward patients with more routine recovery times, that would be expected in more common procedures.
Generally speaking, though, open surgeries where a part or the entirety of someone’s colon is removed will carry no less than three to four days of hospitalization and a few months of at-home recovery. Those who undergo procedures that only require tiny incisions, on the other hand, can often go home on the same day or after a short hospitalization. For them, recovery ranges from four to six weeks, if not less.
How Someone Develops a Hernia
Given that they can arise at practically any time, it is important to learn how and why hernias develop in the first place. As per Medical News Today, most of the reasons why this condition occurs relate to prolonged or intense internal pressure on the abdominal wall. This is generally why men are a lot more likely to develop it.
Common examples of activities that increase the risk include heavy lifting, obesity, persistent coughing, toilet-related straining, constant training that lacks recovery, and similar. The types of hernias that could occur as a byproduct of the said list of activities are groin, upper-stomach, and belly-button-related ones. Also, people who recently had abdominal surgeries are at a higher risk, especially when there were complications that further weakened their abdominal muscles.
Do You Need Hernia Repair?
In many cases, surgeons who perform colon-related procedures are not adamant about the patient undergoing the maneuver immediately. The reason why is that the majority of hernias do not cause any symptoms at all. In fact, a lot of people who struggle with obesity do not even know that they have one because they cannot see the bulge that arises from their intestines coming through the abdominal wall. This is why it is not uncommon to see someone spend many years before ever requiring medical attention.
Those who know their hernia is symptomatic(painful at times) and fail to act, however, might be exposing themselves to life-threatening consequences. Since it is a result of a weakened abdominal wall, time will only lead to a larger bulge and further deterioration of the tissue that holds the intestines. Besides, hernias will quite literally never go away on their own.
The most common situation where you will need immediate surgery is when you start feeling a lot of pain or the bulge becomes discolored. This happens when an incarcerated hernia cuts off the blood flow to a part of your intestine. Although this is an uncommon occurrence, patients with hernia’s should be evaluated by a hernia surgeon to get the appropriate advice on who needs surgery and who might observe or follow the hernia until it becomes symptomatic.
In case you undergo a procedure, you can at least look forward to a quick recovery time. Most patients can go home just a few hours after the surgery, and they do not have to worry about long-term scars since the incisions are extremely small.
Although Dr. Matthew Finnegan advises that you stay far away from physical activity, especially weight lifting, for at least two months, you will not need any additional hospitalization. Therefore, as long as they do not involve straining yourself, you can continue most of your work- and family-related ventures normally.