Hernia

  • Definition

    A hernia is usually a sac formed by the lining of the abdominal cavity (peritoneum). The sac comes through a hole or weak area in the fascia, the strong layer of the abdominal wall that surrounds the muscle.

    The types of hernias are based on where they occur:

    • Femoral hernia appears as a bulge in the upper thigh. This type is more common in women than men.
    • Hiatal hernia occurs in the upper part of the stomach.
    • Incisional hernia can occur through a scar if you have had abdominal surgery in the past.
    • Inguinal hernia appears as a bulge in the groin. This type is more common in men than women. The bulge may go all the way down into the scrotum.
    • Umbilical hernia appears as a bulge around the belly button. It occurs when the muscle around the navel doesn't close completely.

    Alternative Names

    Hernia - inguinal; Inguinal hernia; Rupture; Strangulation; Incarceration


    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    Usually, there is no obvious cause of a hernia. Sometimes hernias occur with heavy lifting. Hernias may be present at birth, but the bulging may not be noticeable until later in life. Some patients may have a family history of hernias.

    Hernias can be seen in infants and children. This can happen when the lining around the abdominal organs does not close properly before birth. About 5 out of 100 children have inguinal hernias (more boys than girls). Some children may not have symptoms until they are adults.

    Any activity or medical problem that increases pressure on the abdominal wall tissue and muscles may lead to a hernia, including:

    • Chronic constipation, straining to have bowel movements
    • Chronic cough
    • Cystic fibrosis
    • Enlarged prostate, straining to urinate
    • Extra weight
    • Heavy lifting
    • Poor nutrition
    • Smoking
    • Overexertion
    • Undescended testicles