Hernia is defined as a protrusion of an intraabdominal viscus, or most commonly of a part of it, out of its standard anatomical location, through a normal or pathological orifice. The hernia is easily noticed by the patient as a swelling, which is, at first, easily reducible.
In cases where the content of the hernia cannot be reduced, we are talking about an irreducible hernia and immediate surgery is required, due to the upcoming ischemia and necrosis of the intestine (incarcerated hernia). In the latter case, the operation should be performed within six hours after the manifestation of symptoms, otherwise, a removal of a devitalized part of the intestine may be needed, or severe peritonitis may also occur.
In order to find out what causes a hernia, we should first look at the structure of the abdominal wall. In the abdominal cavity there are viscera, such as the intestine, and there are also foramen, fossae and rings, through which vessels and nerves pass. These points can loosen over time and create various orifices via which viscera, eg. part of the intestine, may protrude.
There are a lot of factors, which can contribute in the creation of a hernia. A congenital problem, age, obesity, weight lifting, persistent and intense cough, pregnancy or even constipation can aggravate or create a hernia.
Types of Hernia
The most frequent types of hernia are:
- Inguinal hernia: It constitutes the most frequent kind of hernia and represents protrusion of the contents of the abdominal cavity in the inguinal area. It may present with pain in the inguinal area, while its presence is usually obvious.
- Femoral hernia: A swelling below the inguinal ligament, in the inner part of the thigh or groin, often appears in old, obese and multiparous women.
- Umbilical hernia: With age, the abdominal wall around the umbilicus loosens and opens, causing, in certain cases, a swelling, the umbilical hernia. It presents at the area of the umbilicus (original umbilical hernia) or the one close to it (paraumbilical hernia).
- Epigastric hernia – linea alba hernia : It appears along the linea alba, which extends from the xiphoid process to the umbilicus and is more frequent in men.
- Postoperative ventral hernia: The protrusion takes place via the postoperative scar of a previous surgical incision.
It is important to emphasize that a hernia will never regress on its own, and, therefore, it always requires medical surveillance. In addition, a hernia is only treated by surgery. Every patient with symptoms of hernia should take care of the problem. Surgical treatment prevents any complications that can occur in the future.
For further information on the appearance of a hernia and for any worries you may have, please contact us at (+30)2313048684. The General Surgeon, Dr. Anthimidis Georgios, MSc, PhD is in your disposal.