A hernia is a weakened part of the abdominal wall. It is usually visible to the naked eye and can occur during coughing, straining, and bowel movements. When it is present in an infant, it may cause symptoms such as pain or crying. It can also be visible in older children when standing for long periods.
Symptoms of a hernia
If you suspect you may have a hernia, it’s important to seek medical attention early to understand the symptoms. There are a few symptoms you can look for, including pain and discomfort. Even if the symptoms are mild, they can be important in determining the exact diagnosis and preventive measures.
Pain or discomfort in the groin area may be a hernia symptom. This pain may be felt on and off and may increase when a patient engages in physical activity. A hernia may require surgery if the pain is severe or interferes with daily activities.
Another common hernia symptom is generalized abdominal pain. The pressure causes the pain the hernia is exerting on adjacent tissue. It may be worse when you bend over or cough. It may also cause chest pain. In severe cases, hernias may lead to the strangulation of an organ, which may be fatal.
The main cause of a hernia is the weakening of the muscle wall that holds a certain organ in place. This weakness is often inherited or caused by certain activities later in life. When an organ pushes against a weak muscle wall, it protrudes through the weak area and causes a bulge. The bulge may diminish after you lie down or appear after a bout of coughing or intense movement.
Hernias can occur for no obvious reason, but they can also be a complication of abdominal surgery. Because they can be so painful, many people opt to get them treated with surgery. In many cases, the symptoms of a hernia can be life-threatening.
There are a variety of treatment options for hernias. Treatment for hernias usually involves surgery, but sometimes patients can live with them for years without experiencing any symptoms. The best way to treat a hernia is to fix it as soon as possible. The surgical process aims to strengthen a weak abdominal wall and repair existing holes.
Open surgery, also known as herniorrhaphy, uses a single incision in the abdomen to repair the hernia. It is most suitable for large hernias and multiple hernias. Patients who have had previous abdominal surgery may be candidates for an open procedure. The scar tissue from previous abdominal surgeries may have developed adhesions, making minimally invasive operations difficult. During open hernia surgery, the weakened part of the abdominal wall is removed, and the surgeon may place synthetic mesh to reinforce the hernia. The surgical incisions are then closed with dissolvable stitches.
Imaging tests to diagnose a hernia
There are several imaging tests for hernias. X-rays are the most common, but doctors can also use MRI scans to see the underlying cause of pain. MRI uses radio waves and a magnetic field to produce body images. These images can detect tears in the abdominal muscles. If your pain worsens during exercise, your doctor may order an abdominal MRI.
Generally, a doctor can detect a hernia based on your physical examination and medical history. However, imaging tests may be necessary to help rule out other health conditions. A doctor may order a CT scan or abdominal ultrasound to rule out other possible conditions.
Risks of surgery
There are several risks associated with surgery for a hernia. One of the most common complications is an infection, which occurs when the surgeon dissects the sac too far. Other risks include general anaesthesia, recurrence of the hernia, and bleeding.
The recovery time from surgery for a hernia depends on the type of surgery and the severity of the hernia. If the hernia is a simple, less severe case, a person can go home after surgery. However, those who undergo abdominal wall reconstruction or component separation surgery may need to stay in the hospital for several days. After surgery, pain and discomfort are typically managed with over-the-counter pain medication. However, some patients may require opioid-based medication.
Surgery for a hernia can lead to complications, including infections and nausea. It can also lead to life-threatening complications. While the recovery process is typically fast, the risks of surgery for a hernia cannot be eliminated. A surgeon must carefully assess the situation to determine whether surgery is the right treatment for the patient’s condition.