How long will I be in the hospital?

Day surgery for hernia repair

The majority of routine hernia surgery in the US is still performed in hospitals as day surgery. More recently, some patients are able to have hernia surgery in an ambulatory surgical center, which is an outpatient center separate from a hospital. Currently, we perform the majority of our surgery in a hospital setting, but expect this to shift to ambulatory centers over the next few years.

As it stands, for routine hernia surgery performed in the hospital, patients usually check in about 1-2 hours before surgery, to allow time to meet with the entire surgical team and be prepped for surgery. Most routine hernia operations take about 30 to 90 minutes depending on the type and size of hernia. After surgery, patients spend about 1-2 hours in the recovery room before leaving the hospital to continue recovering from the comfort of their homes. Patients who are overweight (BMI > 25) may require additional anesthesia during surgery, and will have a slightly longer recovery time.

Why our patients go home the same day after hernia surgery

Since our practice is specialized in inguinal and umbilical hernias, our patients go home the same day, spending anywhere from 3 to 6 hours in the hospital in total. An overnight stay is not necessary in our practice, as we find that patients prefer to sleep in their own bed, with family members around to assist as needed. Patients who travel a long distance for the surgery often choose to stay one or two nights at the Indigo hotel, in Newton MA, which is less than a mile away from our hospital. This location is just outside of Boston, making it easily accessible to anyone in the metropolitan Boston area

Why would I need to stay in the hospital a few extra hours after hernia surgery?

In rare occasions, patients remain in the hospital for longer than the typical 3 to 6 hours. This extra time is spent in the recovery room, allowing the anesthesia from hernia surgery to wear off. We utilize a combination of local anesthesia, a nerve block, IV medications and sometimes inhaled anesthesia. The goal of this combination is to make our patients as comfortable as possible, both during surgery and throughout recovery, but there are potential side effects associated.

A rare side effect of the nerve block is weakness of the whole leg, requiring some additional time in the recovery area as well as a knee brace until the weakness resolves. This weakness typically resolves by later that evening, but sometimes can linger until the next morning. Patients who have a history of prostate issues may have difficulty voiding after surgery, which is also a potential side effect of general anesthesia. This may prolong hospital stay, as patients must urinate before being discharged from the recovery room. On very rare occasions, a urinary catheter is required to aid in voiding. For the few patients that require general anesthesia, it can take longer to wake up after surgery, and therefore prolong the stay in the hospital by an hour or two.