A hernia occurs when an internal organ or other body part protrudes through the wall of muscle or tissue that normally contains it. Most hernias occur within the abdominal cavity, between the chest and the hips.
What causes a hernia?
Inguinal and femoral herniasare due to weakened muscles that may have been present since birth, or are associated with aging and repeated strains on the abdominal and groin areas. Such strain may come from physical exertion, obesity, pregnancy, frequent coughing, or straining on the toilet due to constipation.
What are the symptoms of a hernia?
A hernia in the abdomen or groin can produce a noticeable lump or bulge that can be pushed back in, or that can disappear when lying down. Laughing, crying, coughing, straining during a bowel movement
- Swelling or bulge in the groin or scrotum (the pouch that contains the testicles).
- Increased pain at the site of the bulge.
- Pain while lifting.
- Increase in the bulge size over time.
- A dull aching sensation.
- A sense of feeling full or signs of bowel obstruction.
How is a hernia treated?
Hernias usually do not get better on their own, and surgery may be the only way to repair them. However, your doctor will recommend the best therapy to address your hernia, and may refer you to a surgeon. If the surgeon thinks it is necessary to repair your hernia, then the surgeon will tailor the method of repair that best meets your needs.
In the case of an umbilical hernia in a child, surgery may be recommended if the hernia is large or if it has not healed by the age of 4 to 5 years old. By this age, a child can usually avoid surgical complications.
- Open surgery, in which a cut is made into the body at the location of the hernia. The protruding tissue is set back in place and the weakened muscle wall is stitched back together. Sometimes a type of mesh is implanted in the area to provide extra support.
- Laparoscopic surgery involves the same type of repairs. However, instead of a cut to the outside of the abdomen or groin, tiny incisions are made to allow for the insertion of surgical tools to complete the procedure.