Are Hernias Dangerous?
A hernia is a medical condition that occurs when bodily organs or tissue break through a weak spot in the abdominal wall. Hernias are caused by a combination of weakened abdominal muscles and excess pressure on the organs or tissue. Although hernias aren’t deadly, a hernia can lead to severe complications.
Are all hernias the same?
The short answer is no; all hernias are not the same. There are several types of hernias that affect different organs and areas of the body. A hernia may feel like a small lump in the groin or abdominal region and a patient can feel the lump when lying down. However, many hernias go undetected until a patient has a physical exam. Here are a few of the most common types of hernias:
- Incisional hernia: The intestine pokes through an old surgical incision in the abdominal wall
- Inguinal hernia: The intestine or the bladder enters the inguinal canal, an area near the groin
- Femoral hernia: Intestinal organs spill into a canal built for the femoral artery
- Umbilical hernia: The small intestine bursts through the abdomen near the navel
- Hiatal hernia: The intestines in the stomach area push through an opening in the esophagus called the hiatus
Through examination, including testing with x-rays or MRIs, doctors can detect the hernia and the affected area. Once detected, doctors can examine the severity of the breach.
Are hernias different in men and women?
Men are more likely to develop hernias, especially inguinal ones. The inguinal canal in males links the spermatic cord to the scrotum. This canal is supposed to close after birth, but in some males, the opening never properly closes, and hernias develop later on in life.
Femoral hernias occur most often in women, particularly during pregnancy or when someone is obese. Hernias can cause complications if the surrounding tissues or intestines get strangled. Strangulation cuts off blood supply and kills the organs or tissues. Hernias do not go away. The only way to repair a hernia is through surgery. The only type of hernia that may heal on its own is the umbilical hernia. This hernia is common in infants and may go away as the infant grows and builds stronger abdominal muscles.
Laparoscopic hernia repair
This type of hernia surgery uses a laparoscope, a tiny microscope, attached to a tiny camera to find the breach in the abdominal wall. Doctors make a small incision in the abdomen and feed the laparoscope through the opening and repair the abdominal hole with surgical mesh.
Patients interested in this surgery should speak with a doctor. Recovery time for this procedure is fast, with most patients returning to normal activities within a week.