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An inguinal hernia specialist is a surgeon who focuses on the evaluation and repair of inguinal hernias, where the contents of the abdomen push through the lower abdominal wall. Such hernias require surgery because they do not resolve independently, and they can create serious medical complications if they become strangulated. In a strangulated hernia, the supply of blood is cut off and tissue necrosis sets in because the trapped material does not get enough oxygen and nutrients. This can cause infection as well as serious digestive disorders.
Patients may opt to see an inguinal hernia specialist for a higher quality of care. These surgeons see numerous patients with this type of injury and are very familiar with its myriad presentations and the various ways to approach the treatment. Their experience can also include familiarity with the latest surgical techniques, which can result in better treatment outcomes for the patient.
When patients visit an inguinal hernia specialist, the surgeon may look over medical records, examine and interview the patient, and order some medical imaging studies. This provides the surgeon with a complete overview of the case, which can be important when it comes to surgery. Patients are typically referred to the specialist for surgery, and thus the surgeon operates under the assumption that the patient plans to receive surgical treatment for the hernia. Patients can discuss the risks and benefits of surgery, as well as any other options, during their consultation.
Working with an anesthesiologist, the inguinal hernia repair specialist can decide on the most appropriate level of anesthesia, which may be local, regional, or general. In the operating room, the surgeon will expose the site of the hernia, gently reposition the protruding tissue, and use stitches, mesh, and other tools to close the abdominal wall. The surgeon reinforces it to limit the chance of a recurrence, closes the incision, and instructs the anesthesiologist to start reducing the anesthesia so the patient can go into recovery.
It is usually easier to find an inguinal hernia specialist in an urban area or large hospital, where the surgeon has access to ample potential patients. Patients from rural regions with limited care options may be able to arrange for accommodations at or near the hospital and can ask for a consult and surgery in close proximity to each other. This can help patients avoid the need for an extra trip. The patient may also need to return to the inguinal hernia specialist for a followup to check on the progress of the healing.