HERNIA

WHAT IS A HERNIA?

  • A condition where something which normally sits inside the abdomen pushes through a weak point in the abdominal wall – the abdominal muscles – to sit outside the abdomen

  • Hernias may contain intra-abdominal fat and/or bowel, or more unusual things such as ovaries and fallopian tubes

  • Hernias often show up as an unusual bulge at one point on the tummy or groin

  • Both males and females get hernias

WHAT CAUSES A HERNIA?

  • Hernias can be present from birth, but more commonly, develop later in life

  • Hernias are caused by pressure inside the abdomen pushing against weak points in the abdominal wall / muscles

  • Anything which increases pressure in the abdomen may help cause a hernia:

    • Heavy work or exercise

    • Chronic cough

    • Chronic constipation and straining

    • Pregnancy

  • Anything which causes a weak point in the abdominal wall / muscles may lead to a hernia

    • Some common natural weak points:

      • Groin: Inguinal and Femoral hernia

      • Navel / Umbilicus (“belly button”): Umbilical hernia

    • Previous operation site: Incisional hernia

 

WHAT SYMPTOMS DO HERNIAS CAUSE?

  • Bulge

  • Ache or pain

  • Symptoms may be worse with activity / coughing / straining

  • Sometimes, a hernia becomes incarcerated or even strangulated (see below)

 

ARE HERNIAS DANGEROUS?

  • Hernias will usually worsen with time – the hole in the muscle layer increases allowing the hernia itself to get bigger

  • The bigger the hernia, the harder it may be to treat

  • If the contents of the hernia can easily poke out through the abdominal muscle layer then drop back inside, this is known as a reducible hernia

  • Hernia contents which become stuck in or outside the muscle layer create a more serious situation – this is an irreducible or incarcerated hernia and urgent or semi-urgent surgery may be required

  • If the hernia is incarcerated and it’s contents are being squeezed too tightly as they pass through the abdominal wall, the blood supply to the hernia may be compromised – this is a strangulated hernia … a surgical emergency; what’s in the hernia (bowel for example) may die within hours if it is not released

  • A strangulated hernia usually causes acute and severe pain at the site

 

HOW ARE HERNIAS TREATED?

  • Surgical repair is the most effective way to fix a hernia

  • The hernia contents are put back where they belong (or occasionally, resected) and the weakness in the muscle layer repaired to prevent hernia recurrence

  • The muscle defect may be simply stitched together, or alternatively covered over with a synthetic “mesh” patch to facilitate more reliable repair

  • Hernia surgery is most commonly performed under general anaesthetic, and may be done via open cut or laparoscopically (“keyhole” surgery)

  • If the risk of surgery outweighs the chance of the hernia causing problems, surgery may not be recommended

  • Hernia belts or “trusses” can sometimes help but are often not very effective in controlling a symptomatic hernia

 

ARE THERE ANY RISKS OR POTENTIAL COMPLICATIONS OF SURERY?

  • Hernia surgery generally involves common, safe and effective procedures, however all surgical procedures carry some risk

  • As always, Mr Jassal will carefully assess you to ascertain if surgery is warranted

  • If so, you will be full counselled as to the risks and potential complications of your surgery

  • Complications specific to hernia surgery are uncommon to rare, but include:

    • Recurrence of hernia

    • Mesh infection

    • Chronic pain

    • Nerve damage

    • Bowel or other organ injury

    • Major bleed


The above information is a general guide only – please feel free to seek further information and/or clarification from Mr Jassal

Melbourne Breast and Endocrine Surgeons Mr Sunil Jassal
Royal Australasian College of Surgeons Mr Sunil Jassal
BreastSurgANZ.jpg
BreastScreen Victoria Mr Sunil Jassal

© 2019 Sunil Jassal. All Rights Reserved. Designed by COCO.

Sunil Jassal Breast and General Surgeon

MBES: 265 Mitcham Road, Mitcham, VICTORIA 3132

MBES at MARTIN MEDICAL: Suite 1, Level 3, 10 Martin Street, Heidelberg, VICTORIA 3084