North Shore Resident Comes to South Shore Hospital for Hernia Expertise
Each year hernias affect millions of Americans, but experts believe that only a portion of those suffering will seek medical treatment of any kind. Unfortunately, without treatment, hernias can lead to other health problems.
While there is often no obvious cause as to why someone develops a hernia, they occur when organs bulge through the connective tissue which normally protects them and keeps them in place. The resulting bulge is known as a hernial sack, which includes layers of connective tissue along with the herniated organ.
Most patients will develop symptoms of discomfort and pain over time, while others may see the symptoms of a hernia present very suddenly—causing extreme pain with movement or even coughing. These symptoms can noticeably affect the patient's quality of life and ability to work.
North Shore resident, Tina Milijevic knows all too well the affect a hernia can have on everyday life. As an active, upbeat professional in her late twenties, Tina didn’t realize the disabling reality of a hernia until the agony became unbearable, and she made her way to South Shore Hospital’s Emergency Department.
“The pain was severe, radiating to my back and side, and there was a protrusion in my lower abdomen,” Tina recalled. “I work in Boston and live on the North Shore, so I didn’t choose South Shore Hospital for convenience, instead I chose them for their expertise,” Tina said.
Treatment of a Hernia
Hernias do not repair themselves or go away if left untreated. While temporary measures may be taken, the treatment is almost always surgery. Your surgeon will look at a variety of factors in deciding the best approach for hernia repair including your overall health, any previous surgeries, your body’s ability to heal, and the size of the hernia.
“Some people are concerned that surgery and recovery will be a long and painful process. However, hernia surgery can often be performed on an outpatient basis with a minimal recovery period,” said Robert Driscoll, MD, surgeon at South Shore Health. "Tools and technologies in hernia repairs have truly evolved to drastically reduce a person's recovery time."
Regardless of the severity or type of hernia, South Shore Health's team of board-certified general surgeons provide patients with highly personalized, advanced hernia care, using both open and laparoscopic approaches—depending on the location and type of each hernia.
“Our goal when repairing hernias is to work with each patient to determine the best surgical option, with the emphasis on performing a durable and lasting repair, reducing discomfort and ensuring a fast and complete recovery,” Dr. Driscoll said. "In Tina’s case, we learned her hernia was incarcerated—a situation that always requires emergency surgery.”
If the blood supply to an incarcerated hernia is cut off, the hernia becomes strangulated. Strangulated hernias are very dangerous, because the tissue can die, causing gangrene to develop which is why incarcerated hernias require immediate medical treatment to avoid serious complications.
Tina, now fully recovered, is back to enjoying her life comfortably without the nagging discomfort of a hernia.
“Though I was initially anxious about surgery and recovery and the inconvenience that it might have on my life, the long-term benefits are well worth the short-term recovery,” Tina said.
Patients should seek a thorough medical evaluation if a hernia is suspected—especially when pain or discomfort persists.