The typical hernia is a weakness or defect in the abdominal wall. It may be present at birth, develop over a period of time, or be due to injury. There are several common sites for abdominal hernias to develop. The Umbilical (Belly Button), Inguinal (Groin) and Ventral or Incisional sites have a natural tendency to be weak and can be predisposed to hernia formation.
The wall of the abdomen has natural areas of potential weakness. Hernias can develop at these areas or other areas due to heavy strain on the abdominal wall, aging, injury, an old incision or a weakness in the abdominal wall present at birth. Anyone can get a hernia at any age. Most hernias in children are congenital. In adults, a natural weakness or strain from heavy lifting, persistent coughing, difficulty with bowel movements or urination can cause the abdominal wall to weaken or separate, and hernias to form.
- Lump in groin area when standing/straining that disappears when reclining
- Pain at the site of the lump, especially when lifting a heavy object
- Swelling of the scrotum
- Some describe more of a “burning” sensation rather than true pain
- Excruciating abdominal pain (if the hernia is strangulated which indicates a more urgent or emergent problem)
- Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite and pain
There is no acceptable nonsurgical medical treatment for a hernia. The standard method of treatment is surgical repair. Modern hernia repair is referred to as “tension-free” and involves placing a prosthetic material referred to as “mesh” in the area to strengthen the weakness. Tension-free hernia repairs are achieved using two surgical approaches:
- Open Repair, where an incision is made in the abdominal wall in proximity to the actual hernia defect.
- Laparoscopic Repair, where 3 or 4 tiny incisions are made (sometimes including one in the belly button), and the hernia is repaired with the help of laparoscopic technique.
Your surgeon, after fully evaluating you, will be in the best position to recommend the best option.