Doc Talk: Ascension Borgess Hospital offers free and convenient hernia detection and care


Some hernias are obvious, some are more discrete. In other instances hernia's are asymptomatic.

Ascension Borgess surgeon Alain Elian said those latter cases can be problematic.

“What we worry about, even if it doesn’t cause pain, in the abdominal cavity intestinal loops or intestine can get stuck in there or other organs can get stuck in there," Elian said.

Though those cases are rare, Elian said that ignoring them is less than idea - because hernias don’t heal naturally.

Pain, which can range in severity depending on the patient's age and activity level, can indicate a hernia. Symptoms can also include swelling or bulging in the abdomen, pelvis or groin area, or discomfort when bending over, coughing or lifting. Bowel issues can also be a sign of a bigger problem.

He said hernias either stay about the same size or they grow.

“So, you can look at it from a standpoint, either I can deal with it now as a small problem or a big problem with [a] bigger surgery, more complications/risk down the road," Elian said.

Many people are living with hernias, but do not seek the medical attention they need due to misconceptions about hernia care, hospital officials said.

Elian said some hernias can be treated via out-patient surgery, other cases might require high-tech, advanced robotic care.

Robotic surgery is minimally invasive. With this technology, surgeons use very small surgical instruments that fit into a patient’s body through a series of tiny incisions. Elian explained the instruments can bend and rotate far better than the wrist of a human surgeon.

“I basically use 3D vision and my hands control the arms of the robot," Elian said.

Ascension Borgess Hospital began using robotic-assisted surgery in 2014.

If a robotic-assisted procedure is necessary, Elian said the patient can go from the operating table back to their daily lives a lot faster and with less pain and fewer complications compared to patients who undergo an open abdominal wall reconstruction surgery.

However, that process and road to recovery can only begin after the hernia is detected.

If you think you have a hernia, Elian strongly suggests being screened by a professional. For patient convenience, Ascension Borgess Hospital in Kalamazoo is hosting two free hernia screening events. During the event, Elian will talk about the importance of early detection and treatment and procedures for hernia repair. Private, free hernia screenings will be available following the presentation.

The discussion and screening events are Thursday, Nov. 29, and Friday, Nov. 30, from 6-8:30 p.m. at Ascension Borgess Hospital, in the Lawrence Education Center at 1521 Gull Road in Kalamazoo.

The events are free, but seating is limited. Participants are asked to register ahead of time by calling 269-226-5456.

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