Hernias  [return to the list of articles]

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.