What is a hernia?
A hernia is an abnormal protrusion of a cavity’s contents through a weakness in the wall of the cavity, taking with it the linings of the cavity. Abdominal hernias are the most common type of hernias. The most common types of abdominal hernias include:
- Groin hernias (inguinal and femoral)
- Umbilical hernias
- Incisional hernias (following previous surgery)
- Stomal hernias.
What causes a hernia?
A hernia may be congenital (from birth) or acquired. In adults, hernias may arise due to pressure in the abdomen causing a weakness in the abdominal wall. These may be due to a range of factors including:
- chronic cough
- obesity or excess weight
- straining or heavy lifting.
What are the symptoms of a hernia?
Most patients with a hernia will notice a lump. The lump may only be noticeable initially with straining or coughing. Over time, the size of the hernia can increase and the lump may always be present. Usually, gentle pressure over the hernia will enable it to “reduce” back into the abdomen. Sometimes, the hernia gets stuck and can’t be pushed back in. This will usually require more urgent treatment to fix the hernia.
Some patients complain of an ache, especially at the end of a day lifting or straining.
How are hernias treated?
The only effective treatment for a hernia is surgical repair.
There are different ways to fix hernias. These include laparoscopic, robotic or open repair. Almost all hernias require mesh to reduce the risk of recurrence. Your surgeon will discuss the options and recommendations specifically for you; this will depend on factors including your medical and surgical history as well as the type of hernia.