Delaying Surgery for Hernia

No need to rush to surgically repair a hernia, say researchers. A new study reveals patients who wait until a hernia is uncomfortable before having it operated on fare just as well as those who have it fixed immediately.

Many men with inguinal hernia don’t experience much pain. An inguinal hernia is when a small part of the large or small intestine protrudes into the groin. Researchers from Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., wanted to know if waiting until the hernia hurt to have surgery would cause more problems.

They followed 720 men with inguinal hernias for between two years and four-and-a-half years. Of the group, 364 men decided they wanted to wait until they experienced problems before having surgery. On the other hand, 356 men decided to have the hernia repaired right away.

Of the men assigned to the watchful waiting group, 23 percent later decided to have surgery. Waiting to have surgical repair did not produce a significantly higher rate of complications — neither did deciding to forego surgery altogether.

The same proportion of men in each group reported having activity-limiting pain caused by the hernia after two years. Both groups also reported their pain had lessened over the two years. Men who opted for surgery reported a significantly greater ability to perform a range of everyday activities.

Study authors say if a patient with an unagitated hernia prefers to wait before undergoing surgery, the wait would not have a negative effect on the overall outcome.

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