Types of Hernia

Hernias are Classified According to Their Location

Inguinal Hernia
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A hernia is a sac that develops when an abdominal organ, usually the small intestine, protrudes through the abdominal wall. The tissue that protrudes can become obstructed or may strangulate. Blood flow to the tissue is restricted and the result may be life-threatening. Hernias may be uncomfortable or painful and surgery is the only method to correct them. Certain hernias, such as small hiatal hernias, can be treated with diet and medication.

Hernia surgery is performed to push the protruding tissue back into place and repair the weakened area in the abdominal wall.

Types of Hernia

There are several types of hernias and they are classified according to their location in your body:

Femoral hernia is more common in women and inguinal hernia is more common in men.

Causes of Hernia

Hernias can occur due to a variety of causes. They may be present from birth or may be the result of a congenital weakness in the abdominal wall. Hernias are more likely to form because due to the following:

  • Family history of hernias

Any activity or medical condition that places pressure on the abdominal wall and muscles may result in a hernia.

Symptoms of Hernia

Most hernias do not have symptoms other than pain or discomfort. You may experience pain when lifting, coughing, or straining during urination or bowel movements. At times an abdominal hernia may disappear but will eventually reappear. Once it is diagnosed with a physical examination, it must be treated to avoid complications.

Symptoms of a hiatal hernia usually include episodes indigestion and may include heartburn, regurgitation, difficulty swallowing, bloating or shortness of breath.

For small hernias, your doctor may choose to observe your condition. In the event of a hernia that is larger or enlarging, a condition known as strangulation, surgery will be required right away.

Diagnosis of Hernia

An abdominal hernia is usually diagnosed during physical examination, but diagnostic tests are often performed to confirm the diagnosis. Diagnostic tests may include an abdominal X-ray or ultrasound. If a hiatal hernia is suspected, your diagnostic tests may include an upper endoscopy, a barium swallow or an esophageal manometry or pressure study.

Blood tests may also be required.

Treatment of Hernia

A hernia repair requires surgery. It is usually recommended when a hernia is large or is interfering with your normal activities. It may also be performed to avoid the possibility of future incarceration or strangulation of the hernia. If strangulation occurs and the flow of blood is stopped, the tissue will die and gangrene can set in. Once this happens, emergency surgery is required.

Hernia surgery is usually performed under general anesthesia as either laparoscopic or open surgery. Surgery will repair the weakened abdominal wall and close up any holes. Mesh patches may be used in the repair of the hole.

Risks of Hernia Surgery

Hernia surgery is a common surgery. While the rate of success is very high, there will always be risks with any surgery. Some of these include:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Nerve damage
  • Bowel perforation
  • Blood clots
  • A reaction to anesthesia or medication
  • An infection

Recovery from Hernia Repair Surgery

After a hernia repair surgery you will experience some pain but with rest recovery will go smoothly. A week or more after the procedure you should be able to return to your regular schedule. You will need to avoid heavy lifting until you are completely healed.

The incision site will be tender and needing protection during activity that increases pressure at the site. If you need to cough, sneeze, or vomit, apply firm but gentle pressure on the incision line during these moments.

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