Abdominal hernias

An abdominal hernia is a protrusion of abdominal contents (bowel, fat) through a defect in the muscle wall of the abdomen.

A hernia may occur whenever the muscles or tendons of the abdomen develop a weak spot or tear.

The abdominal muscles and their tendons normally hold the organs and surrounding tissues together. An organ such as the intestine can push the abdominal lining (peritoneum) through the weakened area and form a balloon-like sac.

This sac is usually seen as a bulge under the skin during straining or standing.

A hernia is sometimes present at birth or it may develop over time, due to strain on the abdominal muscles. A hernia can be aggravated by a chronic cough, constipation or heavy lifting, and will often come to attention as a result of such an event when the straining forces abdominal contents through the defect into the sac. Hernias generally enlarge over time.

Very occasionally, a hernia is a result of a traumatic rupture as a result of a violent injury. Such a rupture is associated with immediate pain, and often with bruising.

Hernias occur in males and females of all ages but are more common in men. Approximately one in every 20 men will develop a hernia at some time in their lives. There is an inherited susceptibility – someone with a parent who has a hernia is about eight times more likely to get a hernia.

Surgical hernia repair is one of the most commonly performed operations. If neglected a hernia will usually increase in size, and occasionally it can lead to complications such as strangulation of the intestine which is very dangerous and requires emergency treatment.

There is a variety of open and laparoscopic options, with and without the use of surgical mesh, to repair a hernia. At Intus, we will discuss these options with you and find the solution best suited to you and your hernia.

For more information on repair of a hernia http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/inguinal-hernia/DS00364