Hernias can be painful or painless and, in some cases, dangerous. For these reasons, it is important to learn about the different types of hernias and why you might want to consider hernia surgery. A hernia occurs when a part of the body cavity protrudes beyond the area where it is normally contained. This usually happens in the intestinal or abdominal fat. Some hernias do not cause symptoms, but all involve risks. Blood supply to a hernia area can be interrupted, and if this occurs in the abdominal wall, immediate repair of the hernia is required. The tissue is cut off from the oxygen and blood it needs.
There are different types of hernias. Some are more common in women, while others are more common in men. Here is an overview of seven different types of hernias and how patients can recognize them.
• Inguinal hernia: This type of hernia accounts for almost 75 percent of all abdominal wall hernias. They occur about 25% more often in men. There are two different types of inguinal hernias – direct and indirect. Both act on the groin where the skin of the thigh meets the upper body. Indirect hernias can occur at any age, but direct hernias are more common in middle-aged men and older men. Hernia surgeons should be able to re-position the bulge.
• Femoral hernia: The femoral canal is the route through which the femoral artery, vein and nerve leave the abdominal cavity and enter the thigh. It can get bigger if the abdominal contents protrude into the femoral canal. This usually happens in women and carries the greatest risk of not being pushed back.
• Umbilical hernia: This type makes up between 10 and 30 percent of all hernias. In most cases, an umbilical hernia at birth can be identified as the protrusion of the navel. This type of hernia is caused by an opening in the abdominal wall. If the opening is small – less than half an inch – it will likely close before the child is two years old. Larger openings may require surgery to close them. This operation usually occurs when the child is between two and four years old. Even after closing the opening, the area will be weaker and more prone to problems later in life. Hernias are most common during pregnancy or childbirth because the area is stressed.
• Incisional hernia: Abdominal surgery can create weak spots in which a hernia can form. Hernias develop after two to ten percent of all abdominal operations. Some patients who have had abdominal surgery are at higher risk than others. Be sure to visit the surgeon after the procedure to find out your risks.
Spigelian hernia: This hernia occurs along the right abdominal muscle and occurs a few centimeters on the side of the middle of the abdomen. Mirror hernia occurs rarely.
• Birth hernia: This very rare type of hernia mainly occurs in women. The hernia protrudes from the pelvic cavity through an opening in the pelvic bone. Birth hernias do not appear with a bulge, but act as an intestinal obstruction and cause nausea or vomiting. Since no bulge is visible, it can be difficult to diagnose these hernias.
• Gastric hernia: This occurs between the marine part and the lower part of the chest. They usually consist of adipose tissue and rarely contain intestinal material. An epigastric hernia forms in an area of relative weakness in the abdominal wall and is often painless.
If you think you have a hernia, it is important to see a doctor or an inguinal surgeon immediately. Not only can you relieve the pain, you can also fix the problem before it becomes more dangerous.