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Is hernia surgery advisable for an 80 year old?

Q: I am asking this question for my father who is 80 years old and has diabetes and hypertension. Recently he has been detected with a hernia on the right side of the groin. Some 40 years back he had a successful hernia operation on the left side of the groin. We consulted a few doctors who suggested to avoid the operation and live with care considering his age and other things. After learning about laparoscopy, we consulted another doctor. He told us to go in for it. At present, he is taking care not to exert himself and we have not yet done operation. After getting contrasting advice from doctors, we are totally confused on the line of treatment. Can you please advice the kind of surgery we should go in for?

A:No operation runs the risk of complications in the hernia. Your doctors are guessing that his expected remaining lifetime is so short that he will not develop complications. This means an anticipated life time of 2 years or less. If they expect him to live longer he should have an operation. An open hernia surgery can be done under local anaesthesia, is safe and effective. To my mind this is the best option. A laparoscopic surgery usually requires general anaesthesia, which your father may not tolerate. I would not recommend this.


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