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Your Healthy Family: Doctors at NCH use robot to repair hernias

Posted at 7:28 AM, Sep 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-12 07:28:40-04

NAPLES, Fla. — A hernia is essentially a hole in your muscle or tissue where there shouldn't be one. Fatty tissue or an internal organ can then push through that weak spot, leading to other complications. But doctors at NCH Healthcare System are using robots to repair hernias more efficiently.

Fox 4 was in the operating room as Dr. Robert Grossman repaired a woman's hernia near her belly button. He said she had a prior surgery and developed the hernia where her incision was.

"Which was causing her some pain and discomfort," Dr. Grossman said.

He sits in the corner of the operating room, looks through a console, and does the entire operation using small devices on his fingers and pedals at his feet. He said there are reasons hernias form.

“In this individual's case, prior surgery, which you can have up to a 10% risk of hernia formation from a prior surgical procedure. Some people are just genetically predisposed to form hernias. Obesity is a major risk factor. Chronic straining, coughing, et cetera," Dr. Grossman said.

He said doctors are doing some kind of hernia procedure at NCH Healthcare System at least once a week. Before this kind of surgery, doctors would have to open patients up to fix hernias.

“If you look about a month out, the outcomes for open and robotic surgeries are pretty similar. But for an inguinal hernia done robotically, your pain level is so insignificant by comparison that people are back up to normal function within just a matter of days," Dr. Grossman said.

He said using mesh is the gold standard for a hernia repair.

“Many years ago, we simply stitch the hernia shut. But that puts the hernia under a lot of tension and it has a high rate of re-occurrence," dr. Grossman said.

He said they still stitch the hernia shut, but then once they do that, they place a piece of mesh behind it.

"The function of the mesh, essentially, is just to add a new addition to the abdominal wall, to make it a little stronger,” Dr. Grossman said. "I don't think we'd be able to do them as successfully without the robot."

While Dr. Grossman was operating on this patient, he found another area that looked weak and likely to become a hernia. He treated it while he was already repairing the initial hernia to avoid future complications.