When an organ pushes through an opening in the muscle or tissue that holds it in place, it causes a hernia. The intestines, for example, may break through a weakened area in the abdominal wall.
Many hernias occur in the abdomen between your chest and hips, but they can also appear in the upper thigh and groyne areas.
Most hernias are not immediately fatal, but they do not heal on their own. Sometimes surgery is required to avoid dangerous complications.
Inguinal hernia : The inguinal canal in men serves as a conduit for the spermatic cord and blood vessels leading to the testicles. In women, the inguinal canal contains the round ligament that gives support for the uterus. An inguinal hernia occurs when fatty tissue or a section of the intestine protrudes into the groyne at the top of the inner thigh. This is the most common type of hernia and is more common in men than in women.
Femoral hernia : At the top of the inner thigh, fatty tissue or a portion of the intestine protrudes into the groyne. Femoral hernias are much less common than inguinal hernias and mainly affect older women.
Umbilical hernia : Near the navel, fatty tissue or a portion of the intestine protrudes through the abdomen (belly button).
Hiatal (hiatus) hernia : Through a diaphragm opening, some stomach tissue rises up into the chest cavity (the horizontal sheet of muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen).
Inguinal and femoral hernias are brought on by weak muscles, which may have existed since birth, or are brought on by ageing and constant stress on the groyne and abdominal regions. Such strain might result from strenuous physical activity, obesity, pregnancy, persistent coughing, or constipation-related straining on the toilet.
Adults who strain their abdomen region, are overweight, have a persistent, heavy cough, or have just given birth may develop an umbilical hernia.
Although the exact cause of hiatal hernias is unknown, pressure on the abdomen or the diaphragm weakening with age may be contributing factors.
When lying down, a hernia in the abdomen or groyne may cause a lump or protrusion that can be pushed back in or that may go away entirely. When the lump has been pushed in, sobbing, laughing, coughing, straining during a bowel movement, or engaging in physical activity, the lump can resurface. Additional signs of a hernia include:
In the case of hiatal hernias there are no bulges on the outside of the body. Instead, symptoms may include heartburn, indigestion, difficulty swallowing, frequent regurgitation (bringing food back up) and chest pain.
It is usually possible to see or feel a bulge in the area where a hernia has occurred by physical exam. As part of a male’s typical physical exam for inguinal hernias, the doctor feels the area around the testicles and groin while the patient is asked to cough. In some cases, soft-tissue imaging like a CT scan will accurately diagnose the condition.
Hernias usually do not get better on their own, and surgery may be the only way to repair them. However, your doctor will advise you on the best treatment for 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.
Adults with umbilical hernias typically need surgery because there is a larger chance of complications and the problem is unlikely to get better on its own.
One of three types of hernia surgery can be performed:
Each type of surgery has its advantages and disadvantages. The best approach will be decided by the patient’s surgeon.
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