What Is A Hernia ?
A hernia occurs when the inside layers of the abdominal wall weaken then bulge or tear. The inner lining of the abdomen pushes through the weakened area to form a balloon-like sac. This, in turn, can cause a loop of intestine or abdominal tissue to slip into the sac, causing severe pain and other potentially serious health problems.
Men and women of all ages can have hernias. Hernias usually occur either because of a natural weakness in the abdominal wall or from excessive strain on the abdominal wall such as strain from heavy lifting, substantial weight gain, persistent coughing, or difficulty with bowel movements or urination. Eighty percent of all hernias are located near the groin. Hernias might also be found below the groin (femoral), through the navel (umbilical), and along a previous incision (incisional).
There Are Two Causes Of Hernias
Congenital and Acquired Congenital hernias are weaknesses of the abdominal wall that are present at birth. Acquired hernias are weaknesses or tears of the abdominal wall caused from wear and tear over several years. Both men and women of all ages have hernias.
Where Do Hernia's Occur ?
- An incisional hernia may occur anywhere on the abdomen where there is a previous surgical incision.
- An umbilical hernia may occur around the "belly button" or naval area in the umbilical ring.
- A direct inguinal hernia may occur in the groin near the area called the internal ring.
- An indirect inguinal hernia may occur in the groin located at the internal ring.
- A femoral hernia may occur just below the groin.
- Bilateral hernias may occur on both the right and left sides of people.
- A recurrent hernia may occur at a site where a previous hernia repair was done.
What Are The Symptoms Of Hernias ?
- A noticeable protrusion in the groin area or in the abdomen
- Feeling pain while lifting
- A dull aching sensation
- A vague feeling of fullness
- Nausea and constipation
Weakened Abdominal Walls
Usually the abdominal wall is strong enough to hold these organs in place, however, sometimes a hernia may form, causing a bulge of the abdominal lining and sometimes tears. A loop of intestine or fatty tissue may push against the abdominal lining creating a sac. You may feel burning or tingling. There is no immediate danger at this point.
Intestines Pushing Into A Sac
Generally a hernia forms a bulge as the intestine pushes into a sac. If the bulge flattens when you push against it or lie down, it is called a reducible hernia. There is no immediate danger and hernia repair is necessary.
A hernia where the bulge cannot be flattened is called a nonreducible hernia. If the intestine is trapped it is called incarcerated. Often there is pain and prompt surgery is needed.
Intestines that become tightly trapped or strangulated lose blood supply and die. Stangulated intestines can block digestion. The pain can be severe. Immediate surgery is needed to correct the block and repair the hernia.
What Are The Risks Of Having Laparoscopic Hernia Repair Surgery ?
As with any surgery there are risks. The risk of one of these complications is no greater than if the surgery were done with the open technique. Complications that can occur are : -
- Infection involving the wound, blood or abdomen
- Injury to surrounding organs such as the bladder, intestines, blood vessels, nerves or the spermatic tube that goes to the testicles (males)
- Difficulty urinating following surgery may occur and a temporary catheter may be ordered to drain the bladder
- Numbness and pain in the groin region may require an open surgery technique
- Even though a hernia may be repaired, it may return
You should ask your surgeon any questions you have in regards to the risk and benefits of the procedure.
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