Hernias are a common problem that may produce pain, swelling, or even a bowel obstruction.
Definition of a Hernia
Abdominal wall hernias, also known as ventral hernias, and inguinal hernias are abnormal protrusions through weakened areas in the abdominal wall.
Causes of Hernias
There are several different causes of hernias including:
- Obesity can cause a hernia. As patients put on weight, this puts tremendous stress on the body. The muscular wall has to stretch with the body and can become weak, predisposing the patient to a hernia.
- Trauma can cause a hernia. Trauma can damage the muscular wall, making the patient susceptible to hernia development.
- Surgery can lead to hernias as well. Sometimes, the muscular wall struggles to heal after a surgical procedure, leading to a hernia.
Symptoms of Hernias
The symptoms of a hernia vary from none at all other than a small bulge to fever and dead bowel. Initially, patients often notice a small bulge.This area may or may not be painful and is usually reducible. Over time the area can enlarge. Sometimes the hernia is irreducible which means that the patient can no longer push the hernia back into the abdomen. Patients with irreducible hernias and increasing pain need to be seen by a physician as soon as possible as this can be a sign of tissue death due to lack of blood flow. Late stage findings in strangulated hernias include fever, increasing pain, and color changes over the skin.
Diagnosis of a Hernia
The diagnosis will start with a physical exam look. Depending on the size and location of the hernia the physician may or may not obtain other imaging for operative planning.
Prevention of a Hernia
Patients should maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly.
Am I At Risk of a Hernia?
Patients who are overweight, chronically cough, or have had prior hernias are at risk for the development of a hernia.
Treatment of a Hernia
Hernias are primarily treated with surgery. The type, size, and location of the hernia determine how it is best repaired. Initial inguinal hernias are usually repaired in an open fashion. Initial ventral hernias are usually repaired using a laparoscopic technique. Recurrent ventral hernias often require a large incision to adequately treat the hernia.
To learn more about treatment procedures for this condition please visit the following:
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