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Hernia surgery


I am a LAPL holder that will undergo non-invasive surgery for an umbilical hernia. I have consulted the EASA law text and it says everywhere that flight crew diagnosed with hernia shall be considered as “unfit”. Once surgery has been conducted, assuming return to fitness, can you then get fit again? Anyone having similar experience?

Thank you

EDFE, Germany

I believe @justin is an AME.

Also @frank – not sure if he is still doing it.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

I would suggest a chat with your AME before surgery. There may be specific info he needs from the surgeon to declare you fit again.

My experience was surgery for inguinal hernia 8 weeks ago. I have not started flying again since Covid, so being unfit was not much of an issue. When the surgery was performed, I was midway through getting a UK Part-FCL licence as I had moved my licence (SOLI) to Denmark earlier in the year. I sent the UK CAA medical department the surgery report and the report from the follow-up appointment with the surgeon. They were happy to declare me fit on that basis and have issued me a UK medical certificate.

Before I fly using my Danish licence, I will check with the AME as to the paperwork required on that side.

Stapleford (EGSG), Denham (EGLD)

Not an AME, just a physician. The main reasoning for being unfit is in case the hernia becomes acutely incarcerated in flight. Realistically for GA not an issue, you just land, but could be a problem on a 12 hour long international leg for example. Once the hernia is fixed, assuming no complications etc, this really shouldn’t be a problem and you go on living your life.

EDRP, Germany

Second what @dantheg wrote as another non-AME physician. This seems like another case where regulations were written mainly with airline pilots in mind.
There is no conceivable situation where a hernia would render you immediately unable to control your aircraft, like with say epilepsy or Diabetes. An incarcerated hernia can result in a lot of pain though and as a pilot one should land immediately at the next airport and call emergency medical services to accelerate treatment. Even declare an emergency to ATC at your discretion to avoid getting stuck doing holding patterns while being in pain.

After hernia repair surgery, there is no reason in my eyes to declare someone unfit to fly.

Last Edited by MedEwok at 23 Jun 08:41
Low-hours pilot
EDVM Hildesheim, Germany

I had laparoscopic hernia repairs for two inguinal hernias and a para umbilical hernia.
I don’t think it’s difficult to work out when you are fit to fly again, you won’t be out of action for long, I wasn’t.

Darley Moor, Gamston (UK)

MedEwok wrote:

This seems like another case where regulations were written mainly with airline pilots in mind.

I do not fully agree: I would say it is not that rare, that patients with hernia ventralis felt strong and sudden pain that even leads to calling the ambulance. Such pain events always pose a risk to safely operating the airplane even if it is only due to the fact that the pilot can not fully concentrate on such operations.
We must not forget that there are PPL pilots with little experience/currency that need a significant share of their mental capacity to operate the plane and for such pilots every distraction is a safety risk.
Therefore it does make sense also for PPL pilots that if they suffer from conditions that might lead to such situations are assessed unfit to fly.

MedEwok wrote:

After hernia repair surgery, there is no reason in my eyes to declare someone unfit to fly.

As with every surgery: There is the need for the AME to check what happened and either assess you fit right away or set conditions that need to be met before you are assessed fit. As you know, every surgery has the risk of post surgery bleedings and therefore it makes sense to be unfit for some time – depending on the actual technique this time can range from few days to some weeks.

What I don’t like about these discussions: There seem to be many pilots who obviously made bad experiences with AME. In my experience I only had AMEs that were seriously interested in preventing me from doing stupid things and had a very pragmatic (yet thoughtful) approach to (un)fit assessments. Therefore for me it would have been the first and natural step to pick up the phone, give my current AME a call and discuss the situation with him.
Perhaps that is due to the fact that until now I only selected AMEs of which I know that they are pilots as well.

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