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Hernias: Types, Symptoms and Repair Methods

Disabled World: Revised/Updated: 2019/07/19

Synopsis: Broad range of information on a range of different types of hernias that can occur in the human body. A hiatus hernia occurs when the stomach protrudes into the mediastinum through the esophageal opening in the diaphragm. Hernias usually need to be surgically repaired to prevent intestinal damage and further complications.

Main Document

A hernia is defined as an abnormal protrusion, usually of part of an organ through a weak point or tear in the thin muscular wall that holds the abdominal organs in place. This causes a bulging of the abdominal wall. Bulging is usually more noticeable when the abdominal muscles are tightened, thereby increasing the pressure in the abdomen. Hernias can occur in different areas, including:

Hernias can be classified according to their anatomical location. Hernia examples include:

The hernia has three parts:

A sportman's hernia is a syndrome characterized by chronic groin pain in athletes and a dilated superficial ring of the inguinal canal, although a true hernia is not present.

A hiatus hernia occurs when the stomach protrudes into the mediastinum through the esophageal opening in the diaphragm.

Causes of hiatus hernia vary depending on each individual and include: improper heavy weight lifting, hard coughing bouts, sharp blows to the abdomen, and incorrect posture, obesity, straining during a bowel movement or urination (constipation, enlarged prostate), chronic lung disease, and also, fluid in the abdominal cavity (ascites). In addition, if muscles are weakened due to poor nutrition, smoking, and overexertion, hernias are more likely to occur.

Since many organs or parts of organs can herniate through many orifices, it is very difficult to give an exhaustive list of hernias, with all synonyms and eponyms.

Symptoms

Hernia Repairs

Each year, while an estimated 5 million Americans develop hernias, only 700,000 have them surgically repaired. Most physicians believe people avoid treating their hernias because they fear painful surgery. Today, there is little reason to fear. Hernia surgery is usually performed on an outpatient basis and patients are able to return to most normal activities in a matter of a few days.

It is generally advisable to repair hernias quickly in order to prevent complications such as organ dysfunction, gangrene, and multiple organ dysfunction syndrome. Most abdominal hernias can be surgically repaired, and recovery rarely requires long-term changes in lifestyle. Uncomplicated hernias are principally repaired by pushing back, or "reducing", the herniated tissue, and then mending the weakness in muscle tissue (an operation called herniorrhaphy).

Hernias usually need to be surgically repaired to prevent intestinal damage and further complications. The surgery takes about an hour and is usually performed on an outpatient basis (which means the patient can go home the same day of the procedure). This surgery may be performed by an open repair (small incision over the herniated area) or by laparoscopic surgery (minimally invasive). Your surgeon will determine the best method of repair for your individual situation.

Most patients will be able to go home a few hours after surgery. If needed, a 23-hour extended recovery area is available. Typically, most patients feel fine within a few days after the surgery and resume normal eating habits and activities. Strenuous activity and exercise are restricted for 4 to 6 weeks after surgery.

Hernia Facts and Statistics

Groin hernias occur in approximately 2% of the adult population and 4% of infants. Their relative frequencies are:

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