General and Gastrointestinal Surgery

Surgical Complications

Open and laparoscopic hernia repairs are surgical procedures, and all surgery carries a risk for complications, such as bleeding and infection. These occur very infrequently.

Other complications for both types of hernia repairs include:

  • Difficulty urinating: Urinary retention occurs most frequently in older men and is the result of stimulation of nerves to the bladder during the operation. This is usually transient, lasting a few days, but occasionally it requires a catheter. Rarely, there may be an actual injury to the bladder or bowel. This occurs in less than one in 1000 procedures.
  • Nerve injuries, which result in pain or numbness. The open hernia repair is associated with numbness of the thigh from injury to a small nerve called the ilioinguinal nerve. Usually the sensation will return to normal but the area may remain numb permanently in some patients. Pain down the side of the thigh, from injury to the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve, or numbness of the middle thigh and scrotum, from injury to the medial branch of the genitofemoral nerve, can occur following the laparoscopic approach. These are both rare. In both surgery methods, careful attention is always directed at not injuring these nerves. However, just pulling or moving them can occasionally produce symptoms that last from weeks to months.