Beaufort Memorial’s Living Well Blog brings health and wellness to Lowcountry living.

A Minimally Invasive Solution to Ventral Hernia Discomfort

Posted by Surgical Services Team on Jan 19, 2017 9:44:00 AM

Four open surgeries in 15 years left Regina Proby with an abdomen full of scar tissue. When a bulge appeared in her belly, she cringed at the thought of undergoing another operation.

Regina had her first surgery in 2001 when she donated a kidney to her father. It was followed by two cesarean sections and a hysterectomy. Just when she thought she was done being cut open, she developed a hernia in her abdomen.

“My belly button popped out like it did when I was pregnant,” the mother of three says. “It got bigger and bigger and made me feel bloated and uncomfortable. I thought, here we go again.” A CT scan confirmed she had a ventral hernia, a bulge of tissue through an opening in the abdominal wall. Also known as an incisional hernia, it occurs in approximately 10 percent of open abdominal procedures, most often at the site of a surgical scar.

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Stephen Sisco, M.D. and Deanna Mansker, M.D.

With a ventral hernia, the inner lining of the abdomen pushes through the weakened area of the abdominal wall to form a small, balloon-like sac, much like an inner tube pushes through a hole in a tire. Coughing or straining can cause a portion of the intestine to push into the sac, creating a noticeable bulge under the skin. Hernias can appear weeks, months or even years after surgery and can vary in size from small to very large and complex. Some patients feel no symptoms, while others can have significant pain.

“I wasn’t in pain, so much as I was uncomfortable,” Regina says. “But the hernia slowed me down. I couldn’t go to the park or beach with my kids. It would become very uncomfortable if I sat for too long.”

To spare Regina from another open surgical procedure, her OB-GYN referred her to general surgeon Stephen Sisco, MD, of Beaufort Memorial Surgical Specialists, an expert in laparoscopic robot-assisted hernia repair. This minimally invasive operation is one of a growing number of robotic surgeries being performed at Beaufort Memorial Hospital.

Recognizing the vast benefits of minimally invasive surgery, BMH invested in the latest generation of the da Vinci Surgical System, allowing surgeons to operate with enhanced vision, precision, dexterity and control. The cutting-edge technology features 3-D, high-definition optics and instruments capable of bending and rotating 365 degrees. “With better instrumentation and visualization, we can perform more complex procedures with better outcomes,” says Sisco, the first surgeon in the area to offer robot-assisted single-site gallbladder surgery. “For the patient, it means a quicker recovery, less pain, reduced risk of infection and little scarring.”

Using the da Vinci robot, Sisco was able to repair Regina’s hernia through several small incisions in the abdomen, getting her back to her normal activities in days rather than weeks. 

“The surgery went very well,” Regina says. “The recovery was much easier than what I experienced with open surgery.” Rather than having to stay in the hospital four or five days as she did with previous surgeries, she went home after just two nights.

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“I love Dr. Sisco,” she says. “He’s very personable and explained everything to me. I felt confident it would be done correctly.” Now fully recovered, Regina is once again enjoying outings with her 5- and 10-year-old boys and 4-year-old granddaughter.

“After all of my health problems, I didn’t have a lot of energy,” she says. “I’m looking forward to getting back to my old life.”

Stephen Sisco, MD, is one of several board-certified Beaufort Memorial physicians performing minimally invasive procedures using the da Vinci Surgical System. To schedule an appointment with a surgeon, call 843-524-8171.

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