By Laura Landro
Patients considering hernia repair can now use a free app for mobile devices, designed by a leading surgeon, which can help predict their chances of experiencing chronic pain and discomfort after an operation.
The app, CeQOL, which stands for Carolinas Equation of Quality of Life, is being officially launched tomorrow at the American Hernia Society meeting in New York, but is already available for download. It is aimed at men, who comprise the majority of hernia patients.
As reported in WSJ last month, more than 30% of patients may experience chronic discomfort and pain after hernia surgery. The pain is often linked to surgical mesh and other devices used to repair the hernia, a bulge of the intestine or body fat through a weak area in the abdomen. It can also be a result of internal damage done to the body by the hernia itself before surgery.
B. Todd Heniford, who designed the app and is chief of the division of gastrointestinal and minimally invasive surgery at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, N.C., tells the Health Blog that the aim is to get both doctors and patients to use the app to help them discuss potential risks and complications prior to surgery.
“I like informed patients who come to me with questions, and the app can help us get down to what our patients want out of surgery and what they are afraid of,” Heniford says.
But physicians may often not have such conversations with patients and don’t have detailed data at their fingertips to give patients an idea of what the potential for complications are, he says.
Heniford, president of the hernia society, notes that 35% of hernia-surgery malpractice cases in the U.S. are related to post-surgical pain.
The hernia app is based on data from the International Hernia Mesh Registry, an ongoing study including hernia-surgery patients from ten countries. The registry used the Carolinas Comfort Scale — a questionnaire designed for hernia repair by the medical center — to measure those patients’ self-reported pain and quality of life before surgery, 30 days after the operation, and again at six months, a year and two years.
After patients use the app to answer questions about themselves and their hernias, the app generates a percentage chance of having some form of discomfort a year following surgery, based on data from the registry. The app also has extensive information about hernias and surgical procedures.
While his app is only for hernia patients, Heniford says he hopes more such apps will be developed that synthesize medical evidence to help patients make decisions and understand risks and side effects.
“People need this not just for hernia surgery, but for when they preparing for things like taking medicines for heart failure or undergoing chemotherapy,” he says.
- Posted from my iPad
Location:Georgetown TX,United States