If you have ever had abdominal surgery, there is a chance that one day you may experience what is known as a ventral hernia. This is a condition in which a weak spot within your abdominal wall (where previous surgery has occurred) breaks open and allows a portion of your intestines or abdominal tissue to push through. This breakthrough causes a painful bulge. Alternatively, it may occur as the result of a congenital issue where the abdominal wall is particularly thin in one spot. People who are significantly overweight, pregnant, or employed in a job that requires frequent lifting of heavy objects are more likely to develop a ventral hernia than others.
Most hernias need to be surgically repaired to keep them from enlarging and causing more uncomfortable symptoms such as pain and nausea. A prompt surgical intervention can also help to avoid a potential emergency situation in which blood supply to part of the bowel is cut off. This is called “strangulation.”
Relatively recent technological breakthroughs have allowed for a minimally invasive approach to the surgical repair of ventral hernias. Advanced surgical capability, specifically the use of the da Vinci robot system, has improved surgeons’ visualization of the operating field and the ability to precisely maneuver within it. A patient’s recovery time can also be dramatically reduced through the robot-assisted surgery.
In particular, this robotic tool is ideal for suturing the mesh material that is used to close and reinforce the location of a ventral hernia. It is also especially helpful in repairing difficult hernias that have bony or muscular margins, as when patients have a hernia on or near the lateral borders of the abdomen. In those cases, the robotic platform allows the surgeon to take very precise bits of tissue to anchor the mesh repair.
Of course, not all patients will be good candidates for this advanced procedure. For example, someone with a particularly large ventral hernia may be better suited for an open surgery.
That said, in general, the robotic approach offers sizeable advantages in completing hernia repair in terms of improved visualization, tremor-less precision and superior ergonomics. This minimally invasive approach also eliminates the need for a large incision and allows for a smaller operating space for the surgeon. Employing this latest technology may provide substantial advantages for certain patients in terms of reduced post-operative pain, a quicker recovery time, and a lesser potential for wound infection and other complications.
Bio: Dr. Eduardo Parra-Davila is a founding physician of Celebration Center for Surgery, located at Florida Hospital Celebration Health and is a member of the Florida Hospital Global Robotics Institute. He also serves as the hospital’s Director of Minimally Invasive and Colorectal Surgery and Director of Hernia and Abdominal Wall Reconstruction, and has trained more than a thousand surgeons in minimally invasive, laparoscopic surgical techniques.