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The majority of people have heard or are familiar with the medical
term "hernia". The simplest definition is a hole in the
body where a hole should not be. Examples of this include inguinal/groin,
umbilical, and incisional/ventral hernia. Other types include hiatal,
or a stomach hernia associated with reflux disease, or even a "herniated"
disk in the spine.
Abdominal hernias can be related to a number of conditions, including
chronic cough, constipation, difficulty urinating, pregnancy or
heavy lifting. All of these can increase pressure allowing protrusion
of abdominal contents.
Hernias can present a number of ways with different symptoms. They
do not always cause pain and can simply show as a bulge;
Or they can cause pain, nausea, and vomiting to name a few. Hernias
once diagnosed, need to be repaired to prevent two major problems-
incarceration and strangulation. These problems occur when the organ
gets "stuck" in the hole (incarceration) and can result
in poor blood flow to the organ with resultant gangrene (strangulation).
One must appreciate these complications, and not avoid surgical
repair because "my hernia does not bother me."
Trusses have been used in the past to "hold" the hernia
inside. They only provide temporary control. Surgery is the advised
treatment for hernia. Many types of repairs have been performed.
The newest technique to repair groin hernias is called the "patch
and plug" repair. This technique uses mesh to fix the defect
and results in the lowest risk of recurrence. This repair can be
done safely through a small incision under local anesthesia and
allows for a rapid return to normal activities. If you feel you
have symptoms of a hernia, you should have an evaluation by your
family physician and surgeon to prevent an elective repair turning
into an emergency.
-- Michael. D. Bono, M.D.