An inguinal hernia is the abnormal protrusion of abdominal contents,

such as the intestine, through an area of weakness in the groin muscles.

The protruding intestine resides in what is known as a hernia sac.

In some cases, untreated hernias cause complications.

For example, if part of the intestines becomes stuck in the hernia opening,

its blood supply may be cut off leading to the death of intestinal tissue.

This is called a strangulated hernia

If a surgeon feels you are at risk for this complication, he or she will likely recommend elective hernia repair.

Traditional open inguinal hernia repair requires a relatively large single incision

Newer, laparoscopic techniques require only tiny “keyhole” incisions or puncture wounds,

which generally result in a shorter recovery period.

When you arrive at the hospital, an intravenous line will be started,

and you may be given a sedative to help you relax.

Laparoscopic inguinal hernia repairs are done under general anesthesia,

which will put you to sleep for the duration of the operation.

A breathing tube will be temporarily inserted through your mouth

and into your throat to help you breathe during the operation.

A catheter may also be placed in your bladder to drain your urine.

These will be removed at the end of the procedure.

An uncomplicated laparoscopic inguinal hernia repair usually takes between thirty and sixty minutes.

Depending on your situation and your surgeon's experience,

he or she will choose one of two types of laparoscopic approaches:

Extraperitoneal Laparoscopic Repair or Trans-Abdominal Preperitoneal Repair.

To gain access to the hernia, your surgeon will use sharp instruments called trocars

to create three small holes or “ports” through your abdominal wall.

The location of these ports will vary depending on your surgeon’s preference and the type of procedure.

One of these ports is usually located at your naval or umbilicus.

Carbon dioxide gas will then be pumped through the umbilical port to puff up your abdomen, so its contents can be viewed more easily.

Next, your surgeon will insert the laparoscope through the umbilical port.

Images from its camera are projected onto a video monitor in the operating room.

Your surgeon will then pass various instruments through the other ports.

These will be used to dissect away the hernia sac and to tack a piece of mesh over the hernia opening.

This will prevent the intestine from slipping back through the opening.

Before removing the laparoscope, your surgeon will take one final look around for areas of bleeding or other damage.

When the laparoscope is removed, a port valve is briefly left in place to allow all the carbon dioxide to escape from the abdomen.

Finally, the keyhole incisions are closed with sutures or staples, and covered with bandages.

After the surgery, your breathing tube and catheter will be removed and you will be taken to the recovery area for monitoring.

You'll be given pain medication as needed.

When you are able to drink liquids, your intravenous line will be removed.

Most patients can leave the hospital three to five hours after the procedure.