A hernia occurs when an organ pushes through an opening in the muscle or tissue that holds it in place. For example, the intestines may break through a weakened area in the abdominal wall.
Hernias are most common in the abdomen, but they can also appear in the upper thigh, belly button, and groin areas. Most hernias are not immediately life threatening, but they don’t go away on their own and can require surgery to prevent potentially dangerous complications.
Definition 2-A hernia occurs when an organ or fatty tissue squeezes through a weak spot in a surrounding muscle or connective tissue called fascia. The most common types of hernia are inguinal (inner groin), incisional (resulting from an incision), femoral (outer groin), umbilical (belly button), and hiatal (upper stomach).
The most common types of hernia are inguinal (inner groin), incisional (resulting from an incision), femoral (outer groin), umbilical (belly button), and hiatal (upper stomach). In an inguinal hernia, the intestine or the bladder protrudes through the abdominal wall or into the inguinal canal in the groin.In an inguinal hernia, the intestine or the bladder protrudes through the abdominal wall or into the inguinal canal in the groin. About 96% of all groin hernias are inguinal, and most occur in men because of a naturalweakness in this area.
In an incisional hernia, the intestine pushes through the abdominal wall at the site of previous abdominal surgery. This type is most common in elderly or overweight people who are inactive after abdominal surgery.
In an umbilical hernia, part of the small intestine passes through the abdominal wall near the navel. Common in newborns, it also commonly afflicts obese women or those who have had many children.
Inguinal hernias are the most common type of hernia. They make up about 70 percent of all hernias, according to theBritish Hernia Centre (BHC). These hernias occur when the intestines push through a weak spot or tear in the lower abdominal wall, often in the inguinal canal.
The inguinal canal is found in your groin. In men, it is the area where the spermatic cord passes from the abdomen to the scrotum. This cord holds up the testicles. In women, the inguinal canal contains a ligament that helps hold the uterus in place.
This type of hernia is more common in men than in women. This is because a man’s testicles descend through the inguinal canal shortly after birth, and the canal is supposed to close almost completely behind them. Sometimes, the canal does not close properly and leaves a weakened area prone to hernias.
A hiatal hernia occurs when part of your stomach protrudes up through the diaphragm into your chest. The diaphragm is a sheet of muscle that helps you breathe by contracting and drawing air into the lungs. It separates the organs in your abdomen from those in your chest.
This type of hernia is most common in patients over 50 years old. If a child has the condition, it’s typically caused by a congenital (birth) defect. Hiatal hernias almost always cause gastroesophageal reflux, which is when the stomach contents leak backward into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation.
Umbilical hernias can occur in children and babies under 6 months old. This happens when their intestines bulge through their abdominal wall near their bellybutton. You may notice a bulge in or near your child’s bellybutton, especially when they’re crying.
An umbilical hernia is the only kind that often goes away on its own, typically by the time the child is 1 year old. If the hernia has not gone away by this point, surgery may be used to correct it. Other type
Incisional hernias can occur after you’ve had abdominal surgery. Your intestines may push through the incision scar or the surrounding, weakened tissue.
Common causes of muscle weakness include:
Factors that strain your body and may cause a hernia, especially if your muscles are weak, include:
Anything that causes an increase in pressure in the abdomen can cause a hernia, including:
Conditions such as cystic fibrosis can also indirectly increase your risk of developing a hernia. Cystic fibrosis impairs the function of the lungs, causing a chronic cough.
If your baby has a hernia, you may only be able to feel the bulge when he or she is crying. A bulge is typically the only symptom of an umbilical hernia.
Other common symptoms of an inguinal hernia include:
Other symptoms of a hiatal hernia include:
In some cases, hernias have no symptoms. You may not know you have a hernia unless it shows up during a routine physical or a medical exam for an unrelated problem.
If you have a hiatal hernia, your doctor may diagnosed it with a barium X-ray or endoscopy. These tests allow your doctor to see the internal location of your stomach:
If your child has an umbilical hernia, your doctor may perform an ultrasound. An ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of the structures inside the body
You should see your GP if you think you have a hernia, so they can determine whether you need to be referred for surgical treatment.
You should go the accident and emergency (A&E) department of your nearest hospital immediately if you have a hernia and you develop any of the following symptoms:
These symptoms could mean that the blood supply to a section of organ or tissue trapped in the hernia has become cut off (strangulation), or that a piece of bowel has entered the hernia and become blocked (obstruction).
A strangulated hernia and obstructed bowel are medical emergencies and need to be treated as soon as possible.
Your GP will usually be able to identify a hernia by examining the affected area.
In some cases, they may decide to refer you to a nearby hospital to have an ultrasound scan to confirm the diagnosis or assess the extent of the problem. This is a painless scan where high-frequency sound waves are used to create an image of part of the inside of the body.
Once a diagnosis has been confirmed, your GP or hospital doctor will determine whether surgery to repair the hernia is necessary.
A number of factors will need to be taken into consideration when deciding whether surgery is appropriate, including
Although most hernias will not get better without surgery, they will not necessarily get worse. In some cases, the risks of surgery will outweigh the potential benefits.
Dietary changes can often treat the symptoms of a hiatal hernia. Avoid large or heavy meals, don’t lie down or bend over after a meal, and keep your body weight in a healthy range.
If these changes in diet don’t eliminate your discomfort, you may need surgery to correct the hernia. You can also improve symptoms by avoiding foods that cause acid reflux or heartburn, such as spicy foods and tomato-based foods. Additionally, you can avoid reflux by losing weight and giving up cigarettes.
If you have a hiatal hernia, over-the-counter and prescription medications that reduce stomach acid can relieve your discomfort and improve symptoms. These include antacids, H-2 receptor blockers, and proton pump inhibitors.
If your hernia is growing larger or causing pain, your doctor may decide that it’s best to operate. Your doctor may repair your hernia by sewing the hole in the abdominal wall closed during surgery. This is most commonly done by patching the hole with surgical mesh.
Hernias can be repaired with either open or laparoscopic surgery. Laparoscopic surgery uses a tiny camera and miniaturized surgical equipment to repair the hernia using only a few small incisions. Laparoscopic surgery is less damaging to the surrounding tissue.
Open surgery requires a longer recovery process. You may be unable to move around normally for up to six weeks. Laparoscopic surgery has a much shorter recovery time. However, the risk of your hernia reoccurring is higher. In addition, not all hernias are suitable for laparoscopic repair, including those in which a portion of your intestines has moved down into the scrotum.
There are two main ways surgery for hernias can be carried out:
Most people are able to go home the same day or the day after surgery and make a full recovery within a few weeks.
If you doctor recommends having surgery, it is important to be aware of the potential risks, as well as the possibility of the hernia recurring. Make sure to discuss the benefits and risks of the procedure with your surgeon in detail before having the operation.
If the trapped section of your intestines doesn’t get enough blood flow, strangulation occurs. This can cause the intestinal tissue to become infected or die. A strangulated hernia is life-threatening and requires immediate medical care