Cheltenham Vascular Unit
What is a Hernia?
A hernia is a bulge or weakness in the body wall. In some the weakness may have been present from birth. Hernias are a common condition that can affect men and women of all ages. Factors that make a hernia more likely to develop are being overweight, constipation, lifting or carrying heavy loads or having a smokers cough.
Not all hernias need to be repaired. Sometimes the surgeon may suggest the hernia is left alone while some hernias can be treated with simple supports.
The information contained on this website is intended as a guide only, it is not intended to subtitute for medical consultation.
For further information please see your doctor.
Commonest types of hernia
Inguinal hernia. This is the commonest type.
An inguinal hernia is a bulge or weakness in the muscle in the groin. In some the muscles are naturally weak; in others the hernia may suddenly appear as a result of straining or exercise. It can be present in both groins at once. In men the hernia can sometimes grow large enough to extend into the scrotum.
The belly button or umbilicus is an area of weakness in the abdominal wall where hernias commonly occur. Symptoms include discomfort and a bulge which gets bigger when coughing or on exertion. The bulge often disappears when lying down. Umbilical hernias are more common in overweight people.
A femoral hernia is a protrusion through a weakening in the abdominal wall located in the groin near the upper thigh. A femoral hernia causes a small lump in the groin. Femoral hernias are more common in women than in men. They tend to strangulate (get “trapped”)more often than other types of hernia and therefore repair is important.
An incisional hernia is a hernia that appears at the site of a previous abdominal operation. This can happen soon after the operation or many years later.
The hernia may result from gradual weakening of the muscles or may appear after lifting heavy objects. Repairing this type of hernia is a bigger operation with more risks and sometimes it is advisable to leave them untreated.
An epigastria hernia is a protrusion through a weakening in the abdominal wall in the area between the belly button and the breastbone. These hernias rarely strangulate but can be quite uncomfortable.
What complications can occur if the hernia is not treated?
Where the contents of the hernia get stuck and will not go back in again. This is not always dangerous, but is usually uncomfortable or painful.
Where the contents of the hernia are incarcerated (stuck outside) and the blood supply is being cut off. This is dangerous and always requires surgery.
Where the contents of the hernia become squashed and block the bowel causing an obstruction or blockage. This also always means surgery is necessary.
What are the treatment options?
||To do nothing
||To wear a truss or support