At St. Joseph’s our team of general surgeons performs more robotic assisted hernia surgeries than any other hospital in CNY. In fact, its three times more. Research suggests that high-volume procedures result in improved patient outcomes. Our board-certified surgeons specialize in repairing hernias. Following surgery, our magnet recgonized nursing staff provide the best post operative care a patient could ask for.
Types of Hernias
A hernia is a sac formed by the lining of the abdominal cavity (peritoneum). The sac comes through a hole or weak area in the strong layer of the belly wall that surrounds the muscle. This layer is called the fascia.
Which type of hernia you have depends on where it is:
Femoral hernia is a bulge in the upper thigh, just below the groin. This type is more common in women than men.
Hiatal hernia is a condition in which part of the stomach extends through an opening of the diaphragm into the chest.
Inguinal Hernia occurs when contents of the abdominal cavity protrude through a weakened tissue spot into the groin or scrotum. This is more common in males.
An incisional hernia can occur along an incision from a previous abdominal wall surgery. This can happen months or even years after a surgical procedure and may require another surgery to repair.
An Umbilical hernia is an outward bulging (protrusion) of the lining of the abdomen or part of the abdominal organ(s) through the area around the belly button does not close completely after birth.
Causes of Hernias
Usually, there is no clear cause of a hernia. Sometimes, hernias can occur due to:
- Heavy lifting
- Straining while using the toilet
- Any activity that raises the pressure inside the belly
Hernias may be present at birth, but the bulge may not be evident until later in life. Some people have a family history of hernias.
Babies and children can get hernias. It happens when there is weakness in the belly wall. Inguinal hernias are common in boys. Some children do not have symptoms until they are adults.
Any activity or medical problem that increases pressure on the tissue in the belly wall and muscles may lead to a hernia, including:
- Long-term (chronic) constipation and pushing hard (straining) to have a bowel movement
- Chronic coughing or sneezing
- Cystic fibrosis
- Enlarged prostate
- Peritoneal dialysis
- Undescended testicles
Symptoms of Hernias
There are usually no symptoms. Some people have discomfort or pain. The discomfort may be worse when standing, straining, or lifting heavy objects. In time, the most common complaint is a bump that is sore and growing.
When a hernia gets bigger, it may get stuck inside the hole and lose its blood supply. This is called strangulation. This causes pain and swelling at the site of strangulation. Symptoms may include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Not being able to pass gas or have bowel movements
When this occurs, surgery is needed right away.
Exams and Tests
The health care provider can usually see or feel a hernia when you are examined. You may be asked to cough, bend, push, or lift. The hernia may get bigger when you do this.
The hernia (bulge) may not be easily seen in infants and children, except when the child is crying or coughing.
Ultrasound or CT scan may be done to look for a hernia.
Surgery is the only treatment that can permanently fix a hernia. Surgery repairs the weakened abdominal wall tissue (fascia) and closes any holes. Most hernias are closed with stitches and sometimes with mesh patches to plug the hole.
An umbilical hernia that does not heal on its own by the time a child is 5 years old will likely be repaired.
The outcome for most hernias is usually good with treatment. It is rare for a hernia to come back. Incisional hernias are more likely to return.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your provider right away if you have:
- A painful hernia and the contents cannot be pushed back into the abdomen using gentle pressure
- Nausea, vomiting, or a fever along with a painful hernia
- A hernia that becomes red, purple, dark, or discolored
Call your provider if you have:
- Groin pain, swelling, or a bulge.
- A bulge or swelling in the groin or belly button, or that is associated with a previous surgical cut.
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Curcillo PG. Incisional, epigastric, and umbilical hernias. In: Cameron JL, Cameron AM, eds. Current Surgical Therapy. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:539-545.
Malangoni MA, Rosen MJ. Hernias. In: Townsend CM Jr., Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery: The Biological Basis of Modern Surgical Practice. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 44.