Tuesday, 8 May 2012
Occurs because of a weakened area of muscle. This weakened area cannot hold in the abdominal contents and it protrudes, or herniates, through the defect. The hernia can contain fat, intestines or other tissue. Typically the hernia protrudes with any activity that increases the pressure in the abdomen such as lifting a heavy object or straining to have a bowel movement. Many times the protrusion will relieve itself or can be gently pushed back in place. If the herniated contents become stuck in the defect it is called an incarcerated hernia. Some incarcerated hernias can cause a blockage of the intestines (bowel obstruction). If an incarcerated hernia is not fixed the contents of the hernia can can swell, lose their blood supply and die. This type of hernia is called a strangulated hernia. The most serious strangulated hernias contain intestine and if untreated can lead to a hole in the intestine and a life threatening infection (peritonitis). The most common type of hernias are in the groin (inguinal hernias). Other types of hernias are in previous surgical sites (incisional hernias), in the abdominal wall (ventral hernias), and around the belly button (umbilical hernia).
Abdominal pain, mass in abdominal wall, mass in groin or scrotum, mass that enlarges with straining, vomiting, abdominal distension. If incarceration and strangulation occurs the patient may experience severe abdominal pain, persistent vomiting, fever, fainting and death.
If no significant symptoms are being experienced the hernia may be watched. Hernias that are getting larger or causing pain need surgical repair. Hernias will not heal themselves. Incarcerated or strangulated hernias need immediate surgical repair to prevent serious injury or death.
X-rays may be done to diagnose intestinal obstruction. An ultrasound or CT scan can define the hernia.