A hernia is a “defect” or weakness in the abdominal wall. There are several locations and types of hernias, the common areas being the groin (inguinal or femoral), belly button (umbilical), above or below the belly button (ventral), and the site of a previous operation (incisional).
A hernia develops due to the combination of a muscle weakness in the abdominal wall and a persistent pressure over this weakness, over a period of time. The causes of hernia are –
- A congenital defect
- Age – muscles can weaken over time
- Poor nutrition
- Straining during urination
- Constant coughing or sneezing
- An abdominal injury or surgery
- Improper lifting of heavy weights
- Being overweight/obese
- Ascites – a fluid buildup in the abdominal cavity
- Peritoneal dialysis
‘Her’nia – in Her!
While hernias in men largely occur in the groin area, in women they occur higher up in the belly region often near the navel.
Symptoms can be suggestive of other problems – ovarian cysts, fibroids, endometriosis or adhesions from a previous operation. For many women with these occult or hidden hernias, it can take years to get the right diagnosis and correct the problem, as they may also not show up on an ultrasound/other diagnostic tests.
Femoral hernias in women can be dangerous
Femoral hernias although rare, develop in the upper thigh/outer groin. They can be dangerous because-
- The bulge of a femoral hernia may be small and may not be seen or felt
- There are often no symptoms until they strangulate – when the bowel becomes stuck in femoral canal with its blood supply cut off
1. Inguinal Hernia – It is more common in men than in women.
2. Femoral Hernia – It is most common in women, especially those who are pregnant or obese.
3. Incisional Hernia – This type is most common in elderly or overweight people who are inactive after abdominal surgery.
4. Umbilical Hernia – This is one of the most common hernias. Common in newborns, it also commonly afflicts obese women or those who have had many children.
5. Hiatal Hernia
6. Epigastric Hernia
7. Spigelian Hernia
8. Muscle Hernia
Muscle weakness that allows a hernia to occur cannot be prevented. However, the following may help avoid a hernia or keep an existing hernia from getting worse:
- Don’t smoke
- Avoid developing a persistent cough
- Maintain a healthy body weight
- Avoid straining during bowel movements or urination
- Lift objects with your knees and avoid weights that are too heavy for you
Over time all hernias get bigger, never smaller! Treatments such as diet, exercise, trusses, belts, briefs, medications and vitamins are of little use. An untreated hernia can put too much pressure on nearby tissues, which can cause swelling and pain in the surrounding area. If the bowel gets obstructed, it can lose its blood supply and get strangulated. This can be life threatening and will require emergency surgery.
It is always safe to repair hernias on an elective basis
At Medica, we have facilities of –
E-TEP for Ventral Hernia
- Minimally invasive
- One day stay
- Full functional abdominal wall
- No long-term mesh complications
Complex Hernia Management
- Advanced component separation procedures like TAR
- Botox for large complex hernias
- Both lap and open options