1. Health
Send to a Friend via Email

Hernia Surgery: From Hernia Diagnosis to Repair

Hernia Surgery In Detail

By

Updated April 11, 2014

Hernia surgery,

Hernia Image

Image: © ADAM

What is a Hernia?

A hernia happens when there is a hole or a weakness in a muscle that allows organs or tissue to bulge through the defect. Hernias range in severity from barely noticeable to life-threatening, depending on the size of the defect and the organs involved. In some cases, hernia surgery is performed to remove the annoying or unsightly bulge; in other cases, severe organ damage can occur if surgery is not performed immediately to repair the problem.

A hernia can happen in many different areas of the body. The most common, though, are in the abdomen and groin areas.

Common Types of Hernias – From Hernia Diagnosis to Surgery and Recovery

Commonly Used Hernia Terms

There are many terms that are used when a hernia is diagnosed to describe the severity and the origin of a hernia.

Some types of hernias change in size when abdominal pressure increases. Abdominal pressure is increased with activities, such as coughing or sneezing, crying (children) and bearing down to have a bowel movement. A hernia that bulges out with abdominal pressure but returns inside the body when the pressure is gone or with gentle pressure from the outside, is referred to as reducible. Hernias that remain in the “out” position are called “irreducible."

An irreducible hernia is also called an “incarcerated” hernia. This can become an emergency if it begins to “strangulate,” meaning that the bulging tissue loses blood flow. A strangulated hernia is an emergency.

A hernia can be an acquired activity, meaning that it develops with age, or due to a surgery or procedure. A congenital hernia is present at birth, also known as a birth defect.

When Is a Hernia an Emergency?

A hernia becomes an emergency when there is severe pain at the site, which is often caused by a lack of blood flow to the tissue bulging through the muscle. A change in the color of the hernia may also indicate a serious problem. It may become dusky, meaning it is gray or ashen in color, or it can become dark red or purple. These types of color changes can indicate that the blood flow has been cut off and the hernia is strangulating.

Recovering from Hernia Surgery

There is no standard recovery from hernia surgery as there are many types of hernias. Some hernia surgeries are large and extensive procedures, while others can be performed on an outpatient basis with the patient returning home the same day.

Hernia Prevention After Surgery

Some types of hernias can be prevented. One of the easiest ways to prevent an incisional hernia is to protect a surgical incision while it heals. This means that if you are rising from a seated position, have to sneeze or cough or are bearing down from a bowel movement, you should gently hold pressure on the incision until the activity is over. Another important way to prevent an incisional hernia is to follow the surgeon’s instructions, regarding how long to wait before lifting anything, especially heavy objects.

Hernia Prevention While Lifting Objects

Some types of hernias can be caused or made worse by lifting heavy objects with improper techniques. Using good techniques, such as using your leg muscles to lift instead of using your back or leg muscles, can help prevent some types of hernias. If you’ve ever lifted a heavy object and had someone say, “You’re going to give yourself a hernia,” you may need to evaluate the way you lift heavy objects.

Additional Information: Answers to Common Questions After Surgery

Sources:

Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia. The University of Michigan Health System. http://surgery.med.umich.edu/pediatric/clinical/physician_content/a-m/congenital_diaphragmatic.shtml

Diaphragmatic Hernias. The Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford http://www.lpch.org/diseasehealthinfo/healthlibrary/digest/diaphrag.html

Hernia Surgery. National Institutes of Health http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002935.htm

Inguinal Hernia Surgery. National Institutes of Health http://www.hmc.psu.edu/healthinfo/i/incisionalhernia.htm

  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. Surgery
  4. Procedures A-Z
  5. Hernia Surgery - Hernia Surgery In Detail

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.