Tue, Oct 09, 2012 - Page 11 News List

Postponing treatment for hernias can damage the small intestine
疝氣遲不就醫 小心小腸壞死

A doctor holds a replica of an average male scrotum in his right hand and a softball in his left hand to show the size of a recent hernia patient’s scrotum in Taipei on Nov. 18 last year.

Photo: Hsieh Chia-chun, Liberty Times

Many people suffer from hernias, but since the afflicted areas do not usually hurt, people can go a decade or longer without feeling like they need to seek medical help, sometimes waiting so long that the small intestine, in men, becomes lodged in the scrotum, causing extreme pain and possibly irremediable damage to the small intestine. Doctors say that the chance of relapse after having surgery is low and that by treating the hernia as soon as possible you can make a speedy recovery.

A man surnamed Huang, 69, discovered a protruding lump located on the lower right side of his abdomen, but put off going to the doctor because he did not experience any discomfort. Eventually, however, after going to the Buddhist Tzu Chi General Hospital the doctor discovered another small hernia on the left side of his abdomen as well. Accepting the doctor’s recommendation, Huang underwent laparoscopic surgery to treat the two hernias and made a quick recovery after the surgery.

Lee Cheng-hung, a surgeon at the Buddhist Tzu Chi General Hospital, says that hernias occur, in men, most commonly because during birth the testes migrate from the abdomen to the scrotum, but the pathway does not close up naturally, which allows the intestine inside the abdomen to fall into the scrotum. Due to the increasing frailness of the lining of the abdomen with age and its loss of elasticity, a hard enough cough or excessive physical exertion can cause the intestine to fall down into the scrotum.

Lee says that with a minor hernia, the patient will typically feel like there is a ball-like structure protruding from their lower abdomen and some slight pressure in the area, but will not usually feel any pain. Since there is not any pain, many people put off going to the doctor until the small intestine gets stuck in the scrotum, which can cause damage to the small intestine, peritonitis, or even sepsis, he says.


1. irremediable adj.

不能挽回的 (bu4 neng2 wan3 hui2 de5)

例: The harm caused by homicide is absolutely irremediable.


2. surgeon n.

外科醫師 (wai4 ke1 yi1 shi1)

例: The surgeon performed a biopsy on the patient’s left lung.


3. elasticity n.

彈性 (tan2 xing4)

例: The elasticity of the robot’s movements was so great that it looked almost human.


Lee also says that besides traditional surgery, patients can choose to undergo laparoscopic transabdominal preperitoneal hernia repair (TAPP), which leaves smaller incisions, heals more quickly, and causes less pain. He says that for patients like Huang, who have hernias on both sides of the abdomen, they must have two separate surgical incisions made, leaving bigger scars and causing more pain, but says that with laparoscopic surgery three small incisions can be made to treat both hernias.

Laparoscopic surgery requires full-body anesthesia, which is not suitable for everyone. With traditional surgery, anesthesia is used on half the body and the incision made is usually only 5cm to 7cm. People with hernias are urged to seek medical treatment as soon as possible.

(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)








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