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HERNIA SURGERY: WHY YOU SHOULDN'T DELAY

Don't delay hernia surgery
As Rita Hanna's primary care doctor, Dr. McCormick diagnosed a serious hernia and referred her to Dr. de Leon of Virtua Surgical Group.
For years, Rita Hanna experienced an occasional sharp pain that shot from her abdomen to her shoulder while exercising. She dismissed it as a sign she was overexerting her body. However, when the bulge in her abdomen finally caught her attention, she knew it was something more serious.

That's when she turned to her primary care doctor, Ryan McCormick, MD, of Virtua Partners in Primary Care. He diagnosed the hernias and then explained to Hanna that a hernia is a weakness in the muscular wall through which an organ may protrude.

"As a primary care doctor, I'm on the front line fielding patients' concerns, diagnosing early and referring them to the right specialist when follow-up care is needed," says Dr. McCormick. Confident in Virtua's high level of surgical care, he referred her to Miguel de Leon, MD, of Virtua Surgical Group.

Too risky to ignore
"It's important not to delay the repair. Hernias can pose potentially detrimental risks, such as intestinal obstruction, or even strangulation of the bowel," says Dr. de Leon.

There are many types of hernias, and both men and women of all ages can get them:

  • Inguinal (groin) and femoral (upper thigh) hernias are more common in men.
  • Incisional hernias occur from incisions or scars from previous surgeries.
  • Umbilical (belly button) hernias are common in babies but usually close on their own by age 1. Umbilical hernias in adults, however, usually need repair.

To repair a hernia, Dr. de Leon returns the protruding organ back to its original position and places a mesh-like patch over the weak spot in the muscular wall. Dr. de Leon's minimally invasive approach offers little scarring and a fast recovery.

Dr. de Leon performs most of his hernia repairs in Virtua Marlton's advanced surgical suites for minimally invasive surgery. The suites offer a voice-activated computer system, high-definition digital imaging and two-way video linkages. These features allow surgeons to operate with greater ease, more precision and with a more defined view of the surgical field than before - improving overall quality and patient care.

"I was glad I had surgery right away. Now, it's a thing of the past," says Hanna.

Top four reasons not to delay hernia surgery
A hernia is a weakness in the muscular wall through which an organ such as the bowel may protrude. According to Miguel DeLeon, MD, of Virtua Surgical Group, it's important not to delay the repair. While repairs require surgery, the risks of leaving a hernia unattended are far too great to ignore. Here's a look at Dr. DeLeon's top four reasons not to delay hernia surgery:

  1. The longer a patient puts off surgery, the greater the potential for complications. If the intestines get caught within the ring of the abdominal weakness or defect and are not pushed back into the abdominal cavity, the intestines can become strangulated and can die due to the loss of blood supply. A hernia can also cause an obstruction in the intestines, preventing normal digestion. Such complications require emergency surgery.


  2. Over time, continuous pressure from the organ can enlarge the weak point in the muscular wall and make it more difficult to operate.


  3. The longer the hernia goes unattended, the more symptoms the patient is likely to experience. Symptoms range from pain to extreme bulges at the site of the hernia, preventing the patient from daily activity and fitting into his/her clothing.


  4. The larger the hernia the longer the recovery. Most people delay the surgery because of its inconvenience to their life; however, they're actually making it worse. What's more, minimally invasive surgery allows shorter recovery than in the past.
  5. Call 1-888-Virtua-3


    To make an appointment with a physician or to learn more about Virtua's services, call toll-free 1-888-Virtua-3 (1-888-847-8823), Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5 pm.


Page Last Modified: May 27, 2009

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