Types of Hernias
There are over 20 different types of hernias, but the most common hernias are:
1. Inguinal canal 2. Intestine 3. Herniated bowel
Inguinal hernia – inner body fat, the intestine or bladder protrudes into the inguinal canal in the groin
Incisional hernia – the intestine or body fat pushes through the abdominal wall where there may have been previous surgery
Umbilical hernia – part of the small intestine or body fat passes through the abdominal wall near the belly button
Hiatus hernia – when the top part of the stomach protrudes through the hiatus (an opening in the diaphragm through which the esophagus passes)
Femoral hernia – the intestine or body fat enters the canal carrying the femoral vessels into the upper thigh
Hernia Signs and Symptoms
A common revealing sign of most types of hernias is a visible lump or swollen area. This lump tends to disappear when the patient lies down and enlarge when the patient coughs.
Doctors can often diagnose a hernia by palpating the site of the bulge and asking the patient to cough. If a hernia can’t be diagnosed in a consultation, an ultrasound or CT scan may be required to assess the area in more detail.
Some hernia patients have no symptoms, while others may experience signs and symptoms including:
- Tenderness where the lump is
- Discomfort in the abdomen which can worsen during
- Physical activity, heavy lifting, straining or standing
- Constipation and other digestive complaints
- Acid reflux and heartburn (in cases of hiatal hernia)
Most hernias can be gently pushed back into the abdominal cavity. These are known as reducible hernias. Those which can’t return to the abdominal cavity when pushed in are known as irreducible hernias and can lead to complications such as strangulation.
In serious circumstances, parts of the bowel or intra-abdominal fat may be caught by the hernia, compromising blood supply. This is known as a strangulated hernia
Strangulated hernias require urgent surgery and in some cases a bowel resection.
Hernias that cause severe pain, nausea, vomiting and abdominal swelling that is firm and tender to touch require immediate medical attention.