Health Beat: All hernias should be treated

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Courtesy of Lake Regional Health System

Dr. Justin Shatto

A hernia can happen to anyone, not just individuals who lift heavy objects, or those of a certain age or gender. General Surgeon Dr. Justin Shatto, with Lake Regional Health System in Osage Beach, encourages patients to share symptoms of a hernia with their doctor.

What is a hernia?

Normally, the abdominal wall of muscle protects the internal organs. When part of the abdominal wall becomes weakened, through strain or other trauma, a tear in the abdominal wall can allow fat or intestines to protrude through, pressing against the skin. If left untreated, the weakened area can grow larger.

“Symptoms can range from a painless lump to a severely painful, tender, swollen protrusion of tissue that you are unable to push back into the abdomen,” Dr. Shatto said. “Pain or burning in the area may or may not accompany the lump.”

Some hernias will show when you are sitting or standing and disappear when you lie down. Dr. Shatto said even if it’s not a hernia, a visible lump should prompt a visit to your doctor’s office.

How serious is a hernia?

In some cases, the muscle wall can cut off circulation from the section of intestine protruding through and can cause complications, such as obstructed bowel.

“If you think you might have a hernia, it’s important to share that information with your doctor,” Dr. Shatto said. “Hernias do not get better on their own, and may develop into bigger problems the longer you wait.”

Hernia treatment options

Treatment options at Lake Regional include both traditional open surgery and laparoscopic surgery. During laparoscopic surgery, the surgeon creates small incisions and uses a telescopic camera to guide surgery on the inside.

Advantages to laparoscopic surgery include reduced pain and recovery time, reduced chance of infection and smaller scars.

“With appropriate cases, we use laparoscopic surgery to help patients recover from surgery as quickly and easily as possible,” Dr. Shatto said. “You can get the surgical treatment you need for a variety of abdominal complications right here, close to home.

To learn more about surgery for hernia repair, visit lakeregional.com/GeneralSurgery. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Shatto, call Lake Regional General Surgery at 573-302-2299.

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