A hernia is an abnormal protrusion of internal organs or structures (such as bowel or fat) through an abnormal defect or weakness in abdominal wall (the muscular/tendinous layer of the belly).
How do hernias manifest?
Hernias are usually noticed as “lumps” in the belly. These lumps tend to occur in natural areas of weakness, most usually in the belly button (umbilical hernia) or the groin (inguinal or femoral hernias).
These areas are naturally weak as they are areas which allow the passage of structures in and out of the abdomen:
- Belly button – for the umbilical cord in foetal life
- Inguinal (groin) – for the passage of the spermatic cord which goes to the testicles
- Femoral (lower groin) – for the passage of blood and lymph vessels into and out of the legs
What is a hernia repair?
A hernia repair is an operation to repair a hernia. As outlined in the section on Abdominal Wall Hernias, hernias are weaknesses or “defects” in the muscular/tendinous part of the abdominal wall. This part of the abdominal wall essentially holds everything inside and when there is an area of weakness, it allows a part of the inside to bulge out. As expected, this protrusion (lump) is worse when the patient strains their abdomen. Just imagine squeezing a balloon when there is an area of weakness – there will be a bulge.