A hernia is a gap in the muscles and fascia of the abdominal wall through which the inner contents, small and/or large intestines, stomach, bladder etc, may protrude out beneath the skin.
What are the types of hernia?
There are several types of hernias. They are broadly divided into internal and external hernias. Internal hernias are not apparent on the outside and can be dangerous. They may occur from birth defects or after some bariatric procedures. As such, they will not be discussed any further here.
External hernias are far more common and vary in size and location. They may present at birth, in old age or any time in between. Both sexes are affected by this condition.
External hernias are the more common ones and are of several types:
What are the symptoms of hernia?
1. Swelling in the groin or abdominal wall which increases on prolonged standing, coughing, sneezing or even a good laugh!
2. Pinching or dull aching pain in the swelling.
3. Constant pulling sensation inside the abdomen.
4. Constipation or difficulty in passing urin.
5. Gross abnormality the the shape of the belly or private parts lead to embarrassment.
Why do hernias need treatment?
Although majority of the hernias remains symptom free there is always a chance that the gut may get trapped in the defect, leading to a life-threatening condition called strangulation.
How are hernias treated?
There are no magic pills for hernias! Surgery is the only way out to treat a hernia.
In groin hernias, a space underneath the muscles is created so as to allow the placement of a large piece of synthetic mesh that stays permanently in place and prevents the hernia from recurring.
In ventral and incisional hernias, the defect is closed with stitches after the contents are safely placed back into the abdominal cavity. An appropriately large mesh is placed under or over the abdominal muscles. This protects the repair.
At present, laparo-endoscopic (keyhole) approaches have made recovery very quick, safe and pain free, with minimal hospital stay. To a large extent, laparoscopic surgery has helped reduce the fear involved with open surgery, e.g. long cuts, prolonged and severe pain, delayed recovery, loss of work and wages. Using a mesh is the standard of care in most cases.
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