Definition of Hernia

What is Hernia? Definition of Hernia

Abdominal wall hernias are defects (holes) in a portion of the abdominal wall that result from a congenital or acquired weaknesses. The inner lining of the abdomen pushes through the weakened area of the abdominal wall to form a small balloon-like sac (hernia sac).The contents of the abdominal cavity can protrude through the defect resulting in a bulge beneath the skin with on and off pain and discomfort especially during activity and straining. Congenital hernias generally occur at developmental weak spots of the abdominal wall such as the groin (where the spermatic cord traverses the abdominal wall) or the umbilicus (where the umbilical cord provided nutritional support in utero). The most common type of acquired abdominal wall hernia is an incisional hernia. An incisional hernia is a hernia that develops through an old surgical incision where the abdominal wall did not regain the full strength after the surgery.

Hernia Symptoms

A hernia symptoms can present gradually over a period of weeks or months, or it can present suddenly upon straining and heavy activity. Some hernias will exhibit clear symptoms, such as pain, discomfort and a bulge in the abdomen. Some hernias will be discovered only during a routine physical examination by a physician.

A protrusion that lessens in extent upon lying down or that can be physically pushed back into place is called a reducible hernia. While this can be tolerated for a period of time and doesn't represent a medical emergency, it should be discussed with a surgeon and very likely dealt with surgically.

Tissue or organ that becomes incarcerated or trapped while protruding through an area of abdominal wall weakness is called incarcerated hernia. This condition place the patient at risk for strangulation, or the loss of blood supply and death of the tissue (strangulated hernia). If the trapped organ is a loop of intestine, the result can be bowel obstruction, with abdominal pain, distension, nausea and vomiting. Tissue death can lead to gangrene and a life-threatening situation. Strangulation is more likely to occur in hernias with small orifices and relatively large sacs.

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