What are the risks and complications of redo surgery for a recurrent hernia?
In general terms, the nature of risks are similar to those for the original operation. Surgery for recurrent hernias is technically more difficult and as a consequence, the risk of developing a complication is higher. Side-effects are the unwanted but usually mild and temporary effects of a successful procedure. Common side-effects of hernia repair include discomfort, bruising or minor swelling at the site of the operation. Feeling sick as a result of the anaesthetic or painkillers is also quite common, and medicines are available to help avoid this.
For a few days after the operation, emptying the bladder may be more difficult than usual, and in men, the scrotum may swell for a few days. These symptoms will clear up over a week or so, without the need for specific treatment. There will be small scars from the keyhole incisions and a longer scar if open surgery is performed.
Complications are unexpected problems that can occur during or after the operation. Most people are not affected, but the main possible complications of any surgery are an unexpected reaction to the anaesthetic, or developing a blood clot, usually in a vein in the leg (deep vein thrombosis).
To help prevent this, most people are given compression stockings to wear during the operation.
Complications may require further treatment such as returning to theatre to stop bleeding, or antibiotics to deal with an infection. Other complications can occur after a hernia operation. There’s a small chance of continuing pain in the groin area, caused by the handling of a nerve during surgery, or by the pressure on the nerves by scar tissue that forms during healing. In men, painful swelling of the scrotum or testicles occasionally occurs. This may require further surgery.
Inguinal hernias recur in 1-4% of cases treated. A small percentage of people have an inherited tendency to scars that are unusually red and raised. The chance of problems depends on the exact type of operation and other factors such as general health. It is also important to remember that there is a small but definite risk of developing a second recurrence after redo surgery for a first time recurrence. The risk relates to how the operation is performed, where the recurrence is situated and who is doing the operation. If a recurrent hernia develops, a repeat operation can be performed, although it is best that this is performed by a surgeon with a special interest in this type of more complex surgery