Royal Prince Alfred Hospital
Royal Prince Alfred Hospital
Department of Colorectal Surgery

Colorectal Surgery

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Hernia

A hernia is an abnormal protrusion of the whole or part of a viscus (bowel, fat, omentum) from its normal place in the abdomen (in the peritoneal cavity), into an abnormal position, with the commonest type being inguinal or groin hernias.

Common sites for hernia are inguinal (Latin for groin) 75%, ventral including incisional (in or through a previous incision) and epigastric (upper part of belly) 10%, femoral (Latin for thigh) 5% and umbilical 3%. Males get hernias nine times more commonly than women do.

A hernia may present with a lump and/or pain, or sometimes have no symptoms and be found on routine inspection or coincidentally during investigations for something else. The development of a hernia may be preceded by anything that increases the pressure inside the abdomen, such as coughing, straining when opening bowels or passing urine, vomiting or lifting.

In an elderly or unhealthy person, it may be appropriate to observe the hernia.

In a young and healthy person, especially if they have symptoms with pain or increasing size of hernia, the hernia may require surgical repair.

Choosing which surgical repair depends on the site, size of hernia and patient, and whether the hernia is primary (never been repaired) or recurrent (had prior repair). Hernias can be surgically repaired "open" by incising directly over the hernia or region, or laparoscopically ("key-hole"), depending on the type of hernia. Repairs can be done using nylon sutures, or by inserting an absorbable or non-absorbable mesh.

Please speak with your doctor over what type of hernia you have and what repair is best for you and your circumstances.

An acute hernia that is very painful and cannot be reduced (pushed back in) may have compromised contents and usually requires urgent surgical intervention.