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Fast Facts: Hernias From Diagnosis to Treatment

 

A hernia occurs when internal tissue or an organ pushes through a weak spot in the abdominal wall, usually creating an uncomfortable bulge that protrudes from the stomach, groin or surrounding areas.

There are a number of different types of hernias that can occur, including umbilical hernias, hiatal hernia, inguinal hernias and incisional hernias. If left untreated, hernias can grow to create greater pain and other health issues.

What causes a hernia?

Hernias can occur in an individual of any age or gender, including children and infants. Some hernias are congenital, meaning that they arise during development, and others can be acquired throughout life. Factors that are sometimes attributed to and may enhance the presentation of a hernia include:

  • Age
  • Abdominal injuries
  • A birth defect where the abdominal wall wasn’t fully developed
  • Being overweight
  • Chronic, persistent coughing
  • Pregnancy
  • Scarring from a previous abdominal surgery
  • Straining during bowel movements or urination
  • Strenuous activity and heavy lifting

How are they diagnosed?

The signs of a hernia are usually apparent. Patients describe their primary symptoms as discomfort, pain or tenderness in the abdominal area. Since hernias usually appear as a small bulge, a physician usually can tell right away if a patient has a hernia by examining the problem area of the abdominal wall. If the hernia is not as apparent, a physician may use additional exams and imaging tests, including an abdominal ultrasound, CT scan or MRI, to make a diagnosis.

Treatment: A Minimally Invasive Approach to Hernia Repair

With advancements in laparoscopic and robotic-assisted surgery, there are now less-invasive surgery options for most types of hernias, where patients can benefit from smaller incisions, less scarring and speedier recoveries.

Typically, surgeons repair hernias in one of two ways:

  • Open surgical repair — This surgery is generally performed through a single incision over the location of the hernia. After reduction of the hernia and its contents, the repair is usually strengthened by placement of mesh in a tension free manner.
  • Laparoscopic repair — Also known as the minimally invasive approach, this surgery requires only a few small incisions. The surgeon operates using specially designed instruments such as a laparoscope. A laparoscope is a small, narrow tube attached to a light source and camera that allows the surgeon to operate through small-sized (10 mm or less) incisions. The hernia is repaired through a transabdominal or extraperitoneal approach, obtaining similar outcomes to the open repair — however, oftentimes with a faster recovery.

However, not all hernias require surgery. A doctor can discuss in detail the types of treatment available to you and can suggest the best course of treatment.

Carrollton Surgical Group is a part of Tanner Medical Group and has practice locations in Carrollton, Villa Rica and Bremen. More information is available at www.CarrolltonSurgical.org and www.SurgeryAtTanner.org. To schedule an appointment, call Carrollton Surgical Group at 770.834.3336.

Dr. Lewis is a general surgeon with Carrollton Surgical Group. He earned his medical degree from the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta. He completed his internship and residency in general surgery at the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville.

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