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Robotic-Assisted Hernia Repair

What is Robotic-Assisted Hernia Repair?

Robotic-assisted hernia repair is a minimally invasive advanced surgical technique that is performed by your surgeon using a robotic system.

A robotic system consists of a surgeon’s console, a patient-side cart with four interactive robotic arms, a high-performance vision system (3D camera), and miniaturized endoscopic surgical tools. During the surgery, your surgeon will be seated at a console next to you and operate through a few small surgical cuts utilizing miniature surgical instruments and a 3D high-definition camera for a magnified and clear view of your hernia.

A hernia is a bulge or protrusion of an organ or fatty tissue through a weakened area in the muscle or connective tissue in which the organ is enclosed. A hernia can develop in any part of the body; however, the muscles of the abdominal wall are most commonly affected. Symptoms may include pain, aching, discomfort, or heaviness in the affected area.

Indications for Robotic-Assisted Hernia Repair

Robotic-assisted hernia repair may be indicated for the treatment of several types of hernias such as:

  • Inguinal hernia: Part of the intestine protrudes through the lower abdominal muscle into the groin
  • Femoral hernia: Fat tissue or part of the intestine protrudes through the abdominal muscle into the femoral area present in the upper part of the thigh
  • Incisional hernia: Tissue protrudes through a previous surgical wound, which becomes structurally weak
  • Umbilical hernia: Fat tissue or part of the intestine protrudes through the abdominal muscle near the belly button
  • Hiatal hernia: Part of the upper stomach protrudes through an opening in the diaphragm into the chest region

Preparation for Robotic-Assisted Hernia Repair

Preoperative preparation for robotic-assisted hernia repair will involve the following steps:

  • A thorough examination is performed by your doctor to check for any medical issues that need to be addressed prior to the surgery.
  • Depending on your medical history, social history, and age, you may need to undergo tests such as blood work and imaging to help detect any abnormalities that could compromise the safety of the procedure.
  • You will be asked if you have allergies to medications, anesthesia, or latex.
  • You should inform your doctor of any medications, vitamins, or supplements that you are taking.
  • You may need to refrain from medications such as blood thinners or anti-inflammatories for 1 to 2 weeks prior to surgery.
  • You should not consume any solids or liquids at least 8 hours prior to surgery.
  • You should shower with an antibacterial soap the night or morning prior to the operation.
  • You should arrange for someone to drive you home after surgery.
  • A signed informed consent form will be obtained from you after the pros and cons of the surgery has been explained.

Procedure for Robotic-Assisted Hernia Repair

Robotic-assisted hernia repair is usually performed under general anesthesia. During the surgery, your surgeon will be seated at a console and is able to view a magnified, high-resolution 3D image of the area to be operated on. To access the surgical site, your surgeon introduces miniaturized endoscopic instruments through tiny incisions. These instruments help your surgeon perform the procedure with precision and control. Your surgeon uses master controls that function similar to forceps and in turn the robotic arms respond by immediate translation of the surgeon’s directions into precise movements of the surgical instruments and enable your surgeon to achieve closure and repair of the muscle wall through which the hernia protrudes using stitches and mesh.

Postoperative Care Instructions and Recovery

In general, postoperative care instructions and recovery after robotic-assisted hernia repair will involve the following steps:

  • You will be transferred to the recovery area where your nurse will monitor your vital signs as your recover from the effects of anesthesia.
  • Most patients are able to go home the same day of a robotic-assisted hernia repair procedure unless your doctor instructs otherwise.
  • You may notice some pain, swelling, and discomfort in the operated area. Pain and anti-inflammatory medications are provided as needed.
  • Antibiotics are also prescribed to address the risk of surgery-related infection.
  • You are encouraged to walk with assistance as frequently as possible to prevent the risk of blood clots.
  • Keep the surgical site clean and dry. Instructions on surgical site care and bathing will be provided.
  • Refrain from strenuous activities, lifting weights heavier than 10 pounds, and driving at least for the first few weeks. A gradual increase in activities over a period of time is recommended.
  • Typically, you will be able to return to work and resume your daily activities one to two weeks after surgery.
  • A periodic follow-up appointment will be scheduled to monitor your progress.

Benefits of Robotic-Assisted Hernia Repair

Some of the benefits of robotic-assisted hernia repair include:

  • Increased precision
  • Better visibility
  • Less pain
  • Smaller incisions
  • Lower risk of infection
  • Less scarring
  • Less blood loss
  • Shorter hospital stays
  • Faster recovery
  • Fewer complications

Risks and Complications of Robotic-Assisted Hernia Repair

Robotic-assisted hernia repair is a relatively safe procedure; however, as with any surgery, some risks and complications may occur, such as the following:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Anesthetic reactions
  • Recurrence of hernia
  • Deep vein thrombosis or blood clots
  • Injury to surrounding structures

Related Topics

American College of Surgeons American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons