Hernia - Description

There are many different kinds of hernias. The most familiar are those that occur in the abdomen. In this type of hernia, a part of the intestines protrudes (sticks out) through the wall of the abdomen. An abdominal hernia can occur in different areas. The name given to the hernia depends on the location in which it occurs. Some examples of abdominal hernias are the following:

  • An inguinal (pronounced IN-gwin-null) hernia appears in the groin. It may come and go depending on various factors, such as the amount of physical activity. Inguinal hernias account for 80 percent of all hernias. They are more common in men.
  • Femoral (pronounced FEH-muh-rull) hernias are similar to inguinal hernias, but they occur lower in the body. They are more common in women, and commonly occur during pregnancy.
  • A ventral hernia is also called an incisional hernia. The name reflects the fact that it often occurs at the location of an old surgical scar (incision). A ventral hernia is caused by the stretching of scar tissue. It occurs most commonly in pregnant women and people who are obese (excessively over-weight, see obesity entry).
  • An umbilical hernia occurs at the navel. Umbilical hernias are common among infants. They occur when the naval area does not close up properly after birth. Some umbilical hernias clear up by themselves within the first year.
  • A hiatal (pronounced hi-ATE-ul) hernia is different from other abdominal hernias. It cannot be seen from outside the body. In a hiatal hernia, the stomach bulges upward into the diaphragm. The diaphragm is a muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen. Hiatal hernias are more common in women than in men.

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