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Science
CHECK UP
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PROGRAMME INFO
Thursday 15:00-15:30
Check Up is your chance to talk to doctors about the health issues that most concern you and your family. Each week Barbara Myers is joined by a medical expert to take your calls and emails on a particular topic and give you the most up to date advice. No appointment necessary.
Call 0870 010 0444
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LISTEN AGAINListen 30 min
Listen to 23 March
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BARBARA MYERS
Barbara Myers
PROGRAMME DETAILS
Thursday 23 March 2006
Hernia operations are common in men

Full programme transcript >>

Hernias

Heavy lifting or simple wear-and-tear can cause the tell-tale bulge of a hernia. Middle-aged men are most likely to get them, but newborn babies are also examined for signs of a hernia. More than 100,000 hernia operations are carried out in the UK each year. But how do you find the best surgeon to fix that gap in your abdominal muscles?

Call Barbara Myers to speak to Check Up's guest, surgeon Tony Miles from Worthing hospital, for advice on hernias.

What is a hernia?
A hernia is a protrusion of part of the intestines through a weakness in the muscular wall of the abdomen. It can happen at any age. Mostly hernias in adults are caused by pure wear-and-tear. But any activity that puts stress on the abdomen, such as heavy lifting, can produce a weakness or tear in the muscle wall.

Babies and hernias
Babies are routinely examined at birth and about 3 or 4% of male babies have what's called an inguinal hernia. This happens when the inguinal canal, the tube through which the testes descend from inside the abdomen into the groin, remains open and allows other organs to move down it. This type of hernia will need surgery. Another kind, around the bellybutton, is known as an umbilical hernia. This affects around 1 in 25 children. Unless it causes pain, it's normally left to close on its own. Surgeons like to keep an eye on such children till they're about 3 years old and then talk to the family about whether an operation is needed.

Surgery
A hernia can be repaired in an "open" way, which happens in the majority of cases in the UK . An incision is made, the defect located and repaired. The surgeon will then normally use a tough manmade mesh to reinforce the repair and reduce the risk of recurrence.

Some surgeons also use laparoscopic or keyhole techniques to repair hernias. In this case, the mesh is placed on the inside of the abdominal wall. This type of operation is technically more difficult than the "open" type and it takes longer for a surgeon to become skilled at it.

Hernias can cause a small amount of discomfort and not appear to be much of a problem, but they are often operated on to avoid them becoming strangulated, or twisted. A strangulated hernia is painful and needs to be treated as an emergency. 

Contact the Programme
Check Up  is your opportunity to ask an expert about the condition. If you have a question, contact us by calling 0870 010 0444 from 1.30pm - 3.30pm on the day of broadcast or by emailing the programme - see 'Contact Check Up' link above.

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