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Hernia Surgery

What it is, Causes & Treatments

If you or someone close to you has been diagnosed with a hernia, you probably have questions. To help you navigate and learn more about this condition and treatments, here are some quick facts for you.

What is a hernia?

A hernia occurs when part of an internal organ or tissue bulges through a weak area of muscle. Most hernias are in the abdomen.

What are the different types of hernia?

  • Inguinal, in the groin. It is the most common type of hernia. Men are eight times more likely than women to develop inguinal hernia.
  • Umbilical, near the belly button
  • Incisional, through a scar
  • Hiatal, a small opening in the diaphragm that allows the upper part of the stomach to move up into the chest
  • Congenital diaphragmatic, a birth defect that needs surgery

What causes hernia?

Hernias are common. They can affect men, women, and children.

A combination of muscle weakness and straining, such as heavy lifting, can contribute. Some people are born with weak abdominal muscles and may be more likely to get a hernia.

Other causes can include:

  • Chronic constipation and straining during bowel movements
  • Family history
  • Chronic coughing (including coughing that smokers experience)
  • Weakened abdominal muscles due to previous surgery, pregnancy, or aging
  • Previous inguinal hernia – even if it occurred in childhood, can increase risk of developing another inguinal hernia

Diagnosis

Most hernias are diagnosed by a physical exam.

Treatments

Although small hernias may not require treatment except to be watched, most require surgical intervention to repair the opening in the muscle wall. Hernias do not heal on their own. Untreated hernias can be painful and cause other health problems.

Most surgeries can be repaired robotically or laparoscopically on an outpatient, non-emergent basis. However, urgent surgery may be necessary if part of the intestine becomes trapped in the hernia and cannot slide back into the abdomen (an incarcerated hernia) or the contained intestine dies because its blood supply has been cut off (a strangulated hernia).

If you experience frequent pain, bulging or discomfort in your abdomen, near your belly button, or groin area, or immediately after eating, schedule an appointment with your doctor and provide as much information as possible.

To learn more about hernia and treatments, click here for upcoming events and classes.

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