At 74, Larry Grunfeld was having a wonderful retirement, with plenty of time on the Connecticut golf course, hiking, and swimming to his heart’s content. Then in early 2018, he had pain in his side while walking, and while lying down. The discomfort was so intense, he couldn’t sleep. After his local physician found a hernia in his groin, Larry came to Columbia’s Comprehensive Hernia Center because he wanted the best possible care. He was treated by Dr. Yuri Novitsky, the Center’s director, and a pioneer in minimally-invasive repair that leaves patients with less pain and little down time.
An inguinal hernia stems from a congenital weakness or a tear in the groin. This opening may allow fatty tissue or the intestines to push through. Untreated, this type of hernia can get larger and become more painful, eventually requiring emergency surgery.
“Though Larry’s hernia was very big, his repair was pretty straightforward,” says Dr. Novitsky. “I fixed it using a minimally invasive approach and made the repair with a highly porous, light-weight mesh, or patch. The patch was secured using minimal fixation, meaning with the fewest possible staples—an approach we use to reduce postoperative pain. The procedure took just 45 minutes and required only three small incisions around the belly button.” Larry went home the same afternoon.
“I felt better right away, and in a couple days, I was back to all the summer activities I enjoy,” Larry says. “I knew from the moment I met Dr. Novitsky that I was in the best possible hands. He took the time to answer all my questions. I walked away really understanding how a hernia develops, and knew exactly what he was going to do to fix it. That gave me a great deal of confidence.”
The Comprehensive Hernia Center surgeons are uniquely skilled to perform both laparoscopic and robotic hernia repairs. These approaches are associated with less pain and faster recovery.