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Types of Hernias

Cascade Hernia Institute specializes in the repair of all types of hernias, including inguinal hernia repairs, hiatal hernia surgery and GERD treatment.

About Hernias

paraesophageal hernia

Paraesophageal Hernia

A hernia occurs when a small sac containing tissue protrudes through an opening in the muscles of the abdominal wall. The technical name for the operation that repairs a hernia is called a herniorrhaphy (her” ne-or’ah-fe).

A hernia develops when the outer layers of the abdominal wall weaken, bulge, or actually rip. The hole in this outer layer allows the inner lining of the cavity to protrude and to form a sac.

Any part of the abdominal wall can develop a hernia. However, the most common site is the groin. A hernia in the groin area is called an inguinal (ing’gwi-nal) hernia (inguinal is another word for groin). Inguinal hernias account for 80 percent of all hernias.

What Kind of Hernia is Bothering You?

While it is difficult to provide an exhaustive list of hernias, these are some of the most common abdominal hernias:

Inguinal hernias occur in the groin, which is the area between your abdomen and thigh. As the most common type of hernia in adults, inguinal hernias are most common with men although they can also occur in women. With an inguinal hernia, the contents of the abdomen - namely the intestine - protrude through a weakness or a tear in the abdominal wall muscle creating a visible bulge and sometimes pain. In men with an inguinal hernia, the sac protrudes into the groin toward—and sometimes into—the scrotum. Pain from an inguinal hernia can be a constant, daily pain or can occur once in a while. Hernia pain may be a symptom of nerve compression, which can lead to permanent damage.

Hiatal hernias form when the upper portion of the stomach slides into the chest cavity through the normal opening created by the esophagus, or food pipe.

Ventral hernias are a type of abdominal hernia, which most commonly develop in the abdominal wall where an area weakens and develops a tear or hole. Abdominal tissue or part of the intestines may push through this weakened area, causing pain and potentially serious complications. Ventral hernias may develop as a defect at birth, resulting from incomplete closure of part of the abdominal wall, or develop where an incision was made during an abdominal surgery, occurring when the incision doesn't heal properly. Incisional hernias can develop soon after surgery or many years later. They affect as many as 30 percent of the patients who have abdominal surgery, such as an appendectomy. Compare laparoscopic versus open ventral hernia repair.

Umbilical hernias occur in or around the naval, or umbilicus. This type of hernia may result from congenital factors. Umbilical hernias may also result from sudden or repeated strain or stress on the abdominal muscles. In adults, as with any hernia, an umbilical hernia will not heal or go away, but rather grows larger with time and often becomes problematic in that incarceration or strangulation can occur. With infants, however, an umbilical hernia may slowly close, delaying surgery until age 3 or 4, unless the hernia causes problems before then.

Incisional hernias can occur in the abdomen in the area of any prior surgical incision or scar. Swelling or bulging near the area of the prior incision, accompany this type of hernia, typically along straight incisional scars running down from the breastbone to the pubic area. Incisional hernias can be a result of 1) tension placed on the tissue from the prior surgical procedure, 2) disruption in the general area of prior suturing to the abdominal wall or 3) inadequate healing, which can be because of obesity, metabolic diseases, infection or poor nutrition. Since suturing (tension) can be the cause of some incisional hernias, it is highly advised that incisional hernias be repaired with the Tension Free Mesh technique to avoid future recurrence. Pain may be an early warning sign of an incisional hernia, as there may not be any initial presence of a bulge, though this type of hernia can develop soon after the original surgery or at any time thereafter.

Femoral hernias appear similar to inguinal hernias. The femoral hernia occurs when abdominal contents are forced through the femoral canal. Typically, this type of hernia forms near the crease of leg in the abdominal region, but in an area relatively lower than the more common inguinal hernia. Women tend to have a slightly larger femoral canal because of the angle and shape of the pelvis. The two types of hernias are often too difficult to distinguish in diagnosis, which is why a hernia specialist is often required to confirm diagnosis. Femoral hernias are more likely to become incarcerated or strangulated because of their location, which is why repair is strongly advised upon diagnosis of this type of hernia.

Epigastric hernias occur between the lower part of the breastbone and the naval and is caused by a weakness or opening in the fibrous tissue of the abdomen. This type of hernia usually consists of fatty tissue and rarely contains intestinal tissue. Although generally small in size (no bigger than a golf ball), epigastric hernias can easily become pinched in their small area, sometimes causing a great deal of pain.



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