Men’s Health Month: Here’s what you need to know about hernia treatment

About 1 million surgeries for hernias are performed every year in the United States, according to medical experts

June is Men’s Health Awareness Month, and a local health system is sharing all about some critical medical issues in men, and new technology and how it can help fix them.

Dr. Michael Albrecht, director of Northeast Baptist Hospital Robotics Center of Excellence, explained some common issues that he is able to help address medically, including hernias in men.

Baptist Health System offers the latest technology, including minimally invasive procedures to help patients deal with medical conditions such as hernias -- to help individuals live a more healthy and productive life, Albrecht said.

As a board-certified general surgeon, what type of men’s health concerns are you able to help your patients address?

“The most common thing I’d like to talk about is what we see most commonly in men, (which) are hernias,” Albrecht said. “About 1 million surgeries for hernias are performed every year in the United States. And of the most common, 90 percent of those occur in men. In fact, 3 percent of men will experience a hernia sometime during their lifetime. That may not seem like a lot, but with conditions that require surgery to fix, that’s quite a high incidence. In fact, it’s probably the most common operation we do as general surgeons here.”

What exactly are hernias, what causes them and what are main treatments for them?

“Well, a hernia, in general, is a weakness or a hole in the muscle of the abdominal wall,” Albrecht said. “And there’s an abnormal protrusion, either a tissue or an organ that comes through that hole or weakness. They can start off very small as a lump and be very asymptomatic, or they can progress, especially during physical activity or exertion. But a simple cough or sneeze can cause it to become stuck and very painful. And sometimes, that becomes an emergency situation.

“As we’re emerging from the pandemic, (and the) relative inactive state that most of us were in, we’re starting to return to physical work. We’re starting to return to physical exercise. And that’s why we’re seeing more frequency of occurrence happen. Treatments include, really, this is one of those conditions where there’s really no good non-surgical alternatives. A hernia is a mechanical defect in the abdominal wall and also requires mechanical repair. And that’s done through surgery.”

So, what can a patient expect from the hernia repair surgery?

“There are several different ways of fixing hernias,” the doctor said. “The traditional, what we call ‘open repair’ has been around for a very long time. More recently, we know that laparoscopic repair of hernias is overall a better repair. It’s safer, there’s less chance of recurrence and less chance of infection. And it seems that patients get back to normal activity and work a lot sooner.”

“Even more recently at the Robotics Center of Excellence in Northeast Baptist, my group is very proficient in repairing these robotically, which is a laparoscopic technique,” Albrecht said. “Using The Da Vinci robot, we noticed that there’s actually even less pain. In fact, many patients require no pain medicine after the surgery. The biggest challenge in doing (it) robotically, to be honest, is keeping patients from doing too much, too soon. There’s still a restricted period where we don’t want you to overexert yourself and the healing process. But most patients feel like they can do a lot more, a lot sooner than we really want them to.”

Baptist Health System is a trusted provider of hospital, health and wellness services in San Antonio and South Texas, Baptist said.

The System includes six acute-care hospitals (Baptist Medical Center, Mission Trail Baptist Hospital, North Central Baptist Hospital, Northeast Baptist Hospital and St. Luke’s Baptist Hospital) in San Antonio, and Resolute Health Hospital in New Braunfels, which offer more than 1,700 licensed beds.

To find a doctor with Baptist Health System, click or tap here.

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