Hernia Surgery

Royal Free Hospital’s specialist surgeons have a wealth of experience and expertise in hernia surgery. The includes laparoscopic hernia repair using the latest minimally invasive keyhole surgery techniques, as well as open hernia surgery.

Our expert consultants treat both NHS and private patients. Supported by our team of dedicated and highly-skilled nurses, we take pride in providing an excellent level of care for all patients, with a 24/7 consultant-led service.

What is a hernia?

A hernia means an internal part of the body has bulged, or pushed through a weakened area in a muscle wall, sometimes causing a noticeable bulge. There are different types of hernias and they can develop in many different areas of the body. Hernias are very common and often don’t cause any symptoms or require any treatment.

However, some hernias can become very painful or cause ongoing discomfort that may impact your quality of life. Depending on the type of hernia, they may also cause additional problems. For example, hiatus hernias involving the stomach can cause chronic heartburn/acid reflux.

On more rare occasions, a hernia may also cause serious complications that require urgent treatment. For example, they may cause blood supply to the affected area to be cut off (known as a strangulated hernia). Or hernias involving the bowl may result in blockages. Thankfully, serious complications are rare and don’t apply in most cases.

Some of the most common types of hernia include:

  • Hiatus hernia – this means part of the stomach has pushed through the diaphragm/upper chest.
  • Umbilical hernia – this means part of the bowel, or fatty tissue in this area, has bulged through the abdominal wall near the belly button.
  • Inguinal hernia – this means part of the bowel, or fatty tissue in this area, has bulged through into the groin, usually causing a noticeable bulge in the groin near the upper inner thigh. Femoral hernias are similar but less common.

What hernia surgery can Royal Free Hospital provide?

Our specialist surgeons have a wealth of expertise in treating all kinds of problematic hernias. We provide laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery as well as open hernia surgery.

  • Laparoscopic hernia repair
    This means a number of small (keyhole) incisions will be made. The surgeon will use a laparoscope (a thin tube with a light and camera at the end) to repair the hernia and, if necessary, the associated muscle. Laparoscopic hernia surgery is carried out under general anaesthetic. However, scarring and recovery times are generally considerably reduced compared with open surgery.
  • Open hernia surgery
    In some cases, open surgery may be required, which means a bigger incision will be made, enabling the surgeon to access the affected area and carry out any necessary repairs. Open hernia surgery can sometimes be performed with either general or local anaesthetic (this will be discussed and agreed in advance). Recovery times are generally slightly longer with open surgery, and you may need to stay in hospital for an additional night.

If you need hernia surgery, whether the procedure can be performed with laparoscopic or open surgery may depend on a number of factors – including the location of the hernia, the level of repair required, as well as other factors such as your general health and age.

Our hernia specialists can advise on the most suitable course of treatment for you, and we will do our best to ensure all patients feel fully informed and well supported every step of the way.

Whatever treatment you require, our specialist consultants and nurses will work together to ensure your stay is as comfortable as possible, and that you have all the aftercare information and advice you need before you go home. When required, we will also arrange follow-ups, and our team is on hand 24/7 should you require any further advice.