A hernia is a defect or opening in the tissue or muscle wall that causes the underlying organ or tissue to push through the opening. There are several different types of hernias and most of these occur in the abdomen (see below). Signs and symptoms vary with the type of hernia, but can be associated with pain and a bulge at the hernia site. Just as the symptoms of a hernia vary by type, causes are also varied. Some potential causes associated are abdominal injury, straining with improper heavy lifting, coughing, or with bowel movements have been associated with onset of a hernia. Risk factors include obesity, smoking, poor nutrition, fluid in the abdomen due to other disease processes and overuse. Diagnosis of a hernia are commonly done by physical exam. On occasion a radiology study is needed to confirm a diagnosis. Treatment for a hernia is surgical repair. Hernia repairs are often performed laparoscopically (minimally invasive). Some types of hernia require an open technique to repair the defect. The defect can be closed by suturing it back together or by placing surgical mesh to add additional support. Postoperatively there is some incisional pain that can be controlled with oral pain medications. There may be some swelling and bruising in the area for a few days. Typically after hernia surgery there is a short recovery and one can return to normal activity within a week. There typically are short term lifting restrictions following hernia repair that vary depending on the type of hernia and surgical procedure.
Common abdominal hernias:
Inguinal: These are the most common types of hernia. Inguinal hernias occur in the groin area. There are three types of inguinal hernias; indirect, direct and femoral. It is recommended that these hernias be repaired surgically. Surgical repair can be performed with an open or laparoscopically (minimally invasive) technique. The repair can involve the placement of mesh to reinforce the hernia defect/opening.
Umbilical: Is a defect or opening through the area around the umbilicus(bellybutton). Adults that develop umbilical hernias through a weakening in the abdominal wall around the umbilical ring.
Incisional: These hernias occur at a previous surgical incision site. They can occur anywhere along the incision line into the abdomen.
Epigastric: These hernias occur along the midline between the sternum (chest plate) and the umbilicus. The muscle fibers in this area can become weak and the underlying contents can push through creating the hernia.