Monday, March 12, 2012

Second Surgery Consult

The first surgeon I saw was flatly opposed to surgery for an abdominal wall strain (sports hernia). It’s not really a hernia, nothing is actually broken, so why fix it? Just because it hurts? Suck it up, buddy. Run with pain or don’t run.

Today, Dr. BRP had a different view. He does a lot of sports hernia surgeries, probably more than any other doctor in Minnesota. He was recommended to me by my sports doctor and also by runners who have had this surgery done. According to Dr. BRP:

  • It’s not really a hernia, of course, and he doesn’t like the name "sports hernia," but for convenience it’s the name we use.
  • My case is quite typical, and he would do an open (not laparoscopic) surgery in a slit about 2 1/2 inches long, attaching a plastic mesh both above and below the strained abdominal muscles.
  • He prefers open surgery because he can view the muscle structure and see what is wrong. Also, laparoscopy is in some ways more complicated. It requires general anesthesia, for example, while open surgery can be done with local anesthesia.
  • It’s "minor" outpatient surgery, takes about 20 minutes, I walk in and walk out. Stitches dissolve.
  • The probability of success is 85 to 90%. He considers it a failure when the pain is not resolved.
  • In hundreds of these procedures, he has not yet had a serious complication. I believe he said that he does 150 sports hernia surgeries per year. I wonder if a serious complication would always get reported back to the surgeon.
  • My little list of extra risk factors (weak immune system, allergy to penicillin and sulfa drugs, 71 years old, anti-angiogenic medication) did not impress him. He thinks I’m strong and I’ll heal OK. I do too.
  • Usually, a person recovers for all normal activities in 3 - 4 weeks, and for sports in another 2 -3 weeks. My next marathon is 13 weeks away.
  • He requires that I go off aspirin for five days prior to the surgery.
  • Medicare covers it.
Dr. BRP is very positive about the surgery that he does so frequently (surprise!), and quite convincing. Despite his confidence, I am daunted by the realization that this is actual surgery and that it exposes me to risks that I don’t have to take. Nevertheless, I’m so tired of running in pain, or not running at all, that I have scheduled the surgery for next week. I keep telling myself that I can chicken out in the next few days if I want to, but I probably won’t.

You can actually see the oatmeal under there:

1 comment:

Bert said...

I wish you luck with the surgery! I haven't commented before, just been lurking, but I love the blog and following your progress.