BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A doctor at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge is changing the face of hernia surgery around the world. He's the first to use a newly developed mesh to make the common repair.
Dr. Karl LeBlanc literally wrote the book on abdominal hernias. His textbook has been translated into several languages. His specialty is the mesh that's used during a surgical repair.
"Meshes are kind of my hobby," LeBlanc said. "I know pretty much every mesh in the world."
The newest mesh to hit the market is called SYNECOR Biomaterial manufactured by Gore Medical. LeBlanc said he worked closely with Gore to create the first mesh to use a combination of unique biomaterials that better absorbs into the body. Think of it as scaffolding that provides temporary support while new tissue forms.
"What's designed to happen is that the body will grow in more rapidly with stronger tissue – basically protein tissue – and (the mesh) goes away in about six to 12 months," LeBlanc explained.
An abdominal hernia happens when a piece of intestine or other tissue pushes up through the stomach muscles. The mesh is inserted laparoscopically through a small incision and placed on top of that bulge. It's tacked into place as a reinforcement to keep the hernia from coming back. The mesh can also be applied with the assistance of a surgical robot or through open surgery.
"The concern that patients are going to have is, 'Oh it takes a year for this to really heal. I can't do anything for a year,'" LeBlanc said. "Well that's not true, because the ingrowth to strength to prevent the hernia from coming back occurs fairly rapidly, so just within a period of a few weeks they're good to go."
He added that risk of infection is low because the tightly woven mesh does not allow space for bacteria to thrive.
The OLOL surgeon was the first to use the SYNECOR biomaterial during a robotic-assisted surgery on April 7. The mesh will roll out to doctors nationwide in early May and will eventually be available around the world.
"This biomaterial is unique because it combines both permanent and non-permanent materials to repair the hernia. In the past, surgeons had to choose one or the other. Because this a hybrid material that is able to provide the best of both worlds, it has a better capability for healing tissue, reducing recurrence and improving long-term outcomes for patients," LeBlanc said
Hernias are most common in the abdomen, but can also appear in the upper thigh, belly button and groin areas. Hernia repair is one of the most common surgical procedures performed worldwide. There are around 200,000 cases of abdominal hernia each year in the U.S.
CLICK HERE to contact Dr. LeBlanc's office or call 225-769-5656 for more information.