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Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Help for Hernias

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Robotic-Assisted Surgery Is the Key

We are fortunate to live in a time of advances in communications and technology. As a surgeon, I believe one of the most dramatic advances in technology has been the development of robotic surgery. Surgery has been promoted in movies and TV programs with a dramatic flair, people rushing about bringing instruments and saving lives.

Today, we’re not just saving lives with robotic surgery, we’re making lives better. An example of that is the development of robotic-assisted hernia repair. You’ll probably never see a movie or TV show referencing hernia repair. It’s not glamorous, but it’s certainly necessary.

A hernia is a very common condition that occurs when tissue or fat bulges outward through an opening in the abdominal wall. Most are located in the abdomen, although you can find hernias in the groin as well. They occur in people of all ages – from infants to adults. Both males and females can have hernias, though inguinal hernias are more common in men.

Hernias won’t get better when left untreated. The only sure treatment for hernia is surgical repair. We need to do a better job of letting patients know there is an effective solution to this health problem.

I believe the highest value of robotic surgery is in hernia repair surgery.

Many of the patients with hernias are young, active people whose hernias eventually interfere with their comfort and ability to enjoy an active lifestyle.

The typical symptom of a hernia is the obvious bulge or lump. Depending on the type of hernia, symptoms may include pain when bending or lifting, constipation, difficulty swallowing food or heartburn. When these symptoms occur in a normally active person, it’s a sign that something needs to be addressed. Diagnostic tests will determine if a hernia is present.

Previously, with traditional open surgery, patients undergoing hernia repair experienced larger incisions, more pain and a lengthy recovery time. The introduction of minimally invasive surgery (laparoscopic surgery) reduced these, but the advance of robotic-assisted surgery has reduced them even more.

Depending on the type of hernia and the patient’s condition, patients who undergo robotic-assisted surgery experience less pain and return to work in several days, not several weeks. They regain their active lifestyle much quicker, but perhaps the best news of all is that I’ve found that patients undergoing robotic surgery are less likely to have a recurrence. With all of the benefits of robotic surgery, I consider it to be the gold standard for hernia repair and numerous other procedures I offer. Finally, I’m certainly grateful that Willis- Knighton has given surgeons this technology at all four of its hospitals. The health system has seven surgical robots to make it available to everyone who needs robotic surgery.

If you’ve been diagnosed with a hernia and it’s affecting your quality of life, be sure to ask your doctor about the benefits of roboticassisted surgery.

Dr. Kamel Brakta is a surgeon at WK Robotic Laparoscopic & Surgery, part of the Willis-Knighton Physician Network. He is trained and experienced in the use of the da Vinci® Surgical System.


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