A hernia occurs when an organ or fatty tissue bulges through the wall of surrounding muscle or connective tissue which has become weakened or torn. A hernia can be caused by a number of factors contributing to increased abdominal pressure including pregnancy, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heavy lifting, persistent cough, weight gain, obesity, constipation, and trouble urinating. Other contributing factors include weak tissue from prior surgery and smoking.
Men and women of any age can develop a hernia. Symptoms of a hernia vary, but can include:
Inguinal hernia – In an inguinal hernia, the intestine or bladder protrudes through the abdominal wall or into a narrow tube in the groin called the inguinal canal.
Umbilical hernia - In an umbilical hernia part of the small intestine bulges from the abdominal wall behind the navel. This type of hernia is often present in a newborn but may not manifest itself until adulthood.
Hiatal hernia – The hiatus is an opening in the diaphragm, the muscle that separates the esophagus and stomach. In a hiatal hernia, the stomach bulges up into the chest through that opening.
Incisional hernia – In an incisional hernia, a bulge or tear develops at the site of a previous surgery, either right away or years after the surgery.
Ventral hernia – As with an incisional hernia, in a ventral hernia a bulge of tissue or organ forms in the abdomen at the site of a previous surgical incision.
Spigelian hernia – In this rare type of hernia, the weakness occurs deep in the muscle walls of the abdomen and is often harder to detect because there is usually no obvious bulge.
Obturator hernia - This is a rare type of hernia in which pelvic or abdominal contents protrude through the large opening of the pelvis through which blood vessels and nerves pass.
Internal hernia - This form of hernia may occur when there is protrusion of an internal organ into congenital or an acquired opening in the abdominal cavity.
Lumbar hernia - This is an uncommon type of hernia that develops in the lumbar region of the back. They can be congenital or the result of injury or trauma to the back or abdomen.
Intraparietal hernia - A rare form of hernia seen in the groin area that frequently causes intestinal obstruction.
The Cleveland Clinic estimates that 5 million Americans develop a hernia each year, while less than 20% are surgically repaired, primarily due to the fact that people are afraid of painful surgery. Memorial’s Hernia team uses the latest minimally invasive laparoscopic technique on most hernias requiring surgical repair. This allows for less pain and a faster healing process. The surgeon will determine if Hernia repair is almost always an outpatient surgery and most patients will be ready to go home within a few hours and can return to most normal activities within a few days.
Our highly experienced team at Memorial Comprehensive Hernia Center will consult with each patient to determine the diagnosis and optimum treatment for your hernia. While not all hernias require surgical repair, some can actually require emergency surgery. This can occur when a hernia becomes strangled - a condition where the blood supply is cut off from the protruding organ. If surgery is indicated, the hernia may be corrected by repairing the natural tissue by using a mesh prosthesis. Your surgeon will make this determination based on your individual diagnosis.