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Hernia: What You Should Know

  • Category: In The News, Video
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Darren Rowan, MD
Hernia: What You Should Know

If you have a lump that causes you some pain or discomfort, it could be a hernia. Or, even if it isn’t causing you pain, it might still be a hernia.

Hernias develop when an internal organ or other body part protrudes through the wall of muscle or tissue that normally contains it.

As we age and our muscles weaken, we sometimes develop hernias. But, genetics can play a part too as others are born with hernias or inherit weak muscles that make it easier to develop a hernia later in life.

There are many types of hernias that occur in different areas of the body. Some of the most common include:

  • Inguinal
  • Umbilical
  • Hiatal
  • Incisional.

When a part of the intestine bulges in to the lower abdominal area, it is called an inguinal hernia. Men are most frequently affected by them. Women on the other hand, can develop femoral hernias, which occur when a section of the intestine bulges in to the femoral canal near the upper thigh. However, these are not as common.

Umbilical hernias occur in the navel or belly button area. These are most often found in babies, but adults can develop them too from repeated heavy lifting or straining.

Hiatal hernias happen when the upper stomach protrudes through an opening in your chest wall or diaphragm. This can lead to stomach acid leaking into the esophagus, causing heartburn, indigestion and acid reflux.

Incisional hernias can develop in abdominal areas surrounding a previous surgical site.

Whether or not you have symptoms depends on the type of hernia you have. You might notice the lump or bulge can be pushed back in but it disappears when you’re lying down. Activities such as coughing, laughing or crying, and straining when using the toilet can all cause the lump to push back out and reappear.

Some individuals experience dull pressure or pain in the affected area, coughing or difficulty swallowing. More severe symptoms can include shooting pain, vomiting or constipation. If a hernia causes infection in an affected organ and is left untreated, you may end up with more serious complications because the organ becomes blocked or strangled.

If you have a hernia, your health care provider may suggest just watching it over time, making lifestyle changes or prescribing medications to help ease any symptoms. However, if a hernia gets larger or symptoms get worse, surgery may be recommended. Your surgeon will repair the hernia, often by use of a surgical patch or mesh that helps support the organ and prevent it from protruding in to the muscle.

Although some people may require surgery with an open incision, fortunately, most hernia repairs can be done laparascopically using the daVinci® robot. This advanced technique allows involves only a few small cuts in the affected area to allow surgical instruments and a tiny camera to be inserted to perform the procedure. This allows for a more precise, less invasive surgery that may result in less bleeding, less pain and a faster recovery than open surgery.

If you suspect you have a hernia, don’t wait. See your health care provider, or call us at North Oaks Surgical Associates.