Local doctor discusses common hernia causes, new trial to prevent cases after surgery

Hernias are typically treated through surgery. Preventing a hernia, however, can save someone the pain of having to deal with the condition.
Published: Sep. 7, 2023 at 11:41 AM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - A common condition that can affect people of all ages, a hernia occurs “when part of an internal organ or tissue bulges through a weak area of muscle,” according to MedlinePlus.

Dr. William Hope, a general surgeon with Novant Health, explained common hernia causes and a new trial aiming to prevent hernias from forming after surgery.

“... so a hernia, I tell my patients, it’s basically a hole in your abdominal wall,” Dr. Hope explains. “And they can happen pretty much anywhere on the front of your abdomen, in the middle, and usually in the lower parts of the abdomen.”

According to MedlinePlus, hernias are typically treated through surgery. Preventing a hernia, however, can save someone the pain of having to deal with the condition.

“The two main causes is there’s some areas in our abdomen that are weak, and that over time, as you mentioned, that area with a lot of stress and pressure that we put on will eventually erode and open,” Dr. Hope says. “And then there’s also a big, a lot of hernias, we see that people have had previous surgery. So if you’ve had an incision on your abdomen, you can develop a hernia where that was.”

“You can help the muscles, you can still have a great core and still get hernias. So it’s not a foolproof, but it does help,” he adds.

Concerning hernias that form following surgery, a trial is currently underway studying the impact of a new procedure with the hopes of lessening the chances that a hernia forms.

“... so this is a very interesting trial we have where one of about 20 centers in the United States and about ten in Europe that are [participating in the] trial,” Dr. Hope explains. “And this is specifically for what we call incisional hernias, so if you’ve had a cut on your abdomen, and they just vary in size, and obviously, the larger the cut, the more likely you are to develop a hernia. At the end of those surgeries, we have to sew that area back together, and we’ve done that for a long time. But unfortunately, there’s a rate of an incisional hernia of somewhere around 15 to 20 percent in patients that will develop a hernia after having those types of surgeries.

“So this trial, we’re seeing if absorbable mesh, which is what we use ... a lot to fix hernias, at the time of that surgery will decrease the chance of developing a hernia. So get it before it happens. And it’s kind of a prophylactic thing, obviously, similar to like a vaccine.”

You can watch the full interview at the top of this story.