Abdominal Wall Hernias

Abdominal Wall Hernias

An abdominal hernia arises from an opening or weakness in the muscle layer of the abdominal wall. The lining of the abdominal cavity protrudes through the area of weakness, causing a “bulge” or balloon-like sac. This bulge can contain a portion of the intestine, fat tissue, or other intra-abdominal contents. If this tissue gets trapped, it can cause the blood supply to this tissue to be cut off, causing a serious health condition. 

There are many types of abdominal wall hernias: ventral, incisional, epigastric, umbilical, or spigelian hernia, as well as inguinal hernia. 

At Yale Bariatric/Gastrointestinal Surgery, our innovative surgeons perform minimally invasive procedures, many of which are at the leading edge of gastrointestinal surgery, in order to treat abdominal wall hernias. Our multidisciplinary team works collectively to create personalized treatment plans that provide the best options for each patient, reflecting his or her specific condition and individual needs. 

Inguinal Hernia 
The inguinal area refers to the groin or lower regions of the abdomen. 

An inguinal hernia occurs when the soft tissue of the intestine protrudes through the inguinal canal. 

Some inguinal hernias occur in newborns and children, resulting from a weakness in the abdominal wall that is present at birth. In many adults, the inguinal hernia is caused by a weakness in the abdomen wall. These types of hernias are more common in men than in women.

Ventral/Umbilical Hernia 
Ventral hernias are a type of abdominal wall hernia. As their name suggests, they occur along the ventral area, or midline, of the abdomen. If the ventral hernia occurs along an area of a previous surgical incision, it is referred to as an incisional hernia. The most common ventral hernias are incisional hernias because incisions create an area of weakness in the abdominal muscles, making it easier for abdominal contents or part of the intestine to push into that area and create a the tell-tale “bulge” associated with a hernia. 

A hernia will not get better, nor will it heal on its own. 

At Yale Bariatric/Gastrointestinal Surgery, our innovative surgeons perform minimally invasive procedures, many of which are at the leading edge of gastrointestinal surgery, in order to treat ventral hernias. Our multidisciplinary team works collectively to create personalized treatment plans that provide the best options for each patient, reflecting his or her specific condition and individual needs. 

An umbilical hernia occurs when part of the intestine protrudes through an opening in the abdominal muscles in the area of the navel, or “belly button.” They are most common in infants and usually resolve before the baby is a year old. These hernias may be more obvious when the baby cries or laughs. Umbilical hernias that do not resolve by age three, or those that occur in adulthood, often need to be surgically repaired. 

Incisional Hernia 
As the name suggests, ventral hernias occur along the ventral area, or midline, of the abdomen. If the ventral hernia occurs along an area of a previous surgical incision, it is referred to as an incisional hernia. The most common ventral hernias are incisional hernias because incisions create an area of weakness in the abdominal muscles, making it easier for abdominal contents or part of the intestine to push into that area and create a the tell-tale “bulge” associated with a hernia. 

A hernia will not get better, nor will it heal on its own. Some hernias may require surgery.

Causes of Abdominal Wall Hernias

Most abdominal wall hernias occur in the abdominal wall where a previous incision has been made because it creates an area of potential weakness in the abdominal muscles. This weakness may result in a bulge or a tear, allowing the inner lining of the abdomen to push through the weakened area. 

Hernias can develop due to: 

  • Heavy straining 
  • Aging 
  • Injury 
  • Infection in the area after surgery 
  • Surgical openings 
  • Weakness in the abdominal wall 
Hernias can occur at any age and can even be present at birth, though they are most common with aging. Certain activities may increase the chance of developing a hernia. These include persistent coughing and straining during a bowel movement or urination.

Symptoms

An abdominal wall hernia usually appears as a bulge, or balloon-like sac, under your skin. In most situations, it causes no pain or discomfort except with heavy lifting, coughing, straining, or prolonged sitting or standing. 

When discomfort does accompany a hernia, it may feel like a sharp or a dull ache that sometimes worsens at the end of the day. If the hernia is entrapped or “strangulated,” symptoms may include continuous or severe discomfort, redness, nausea, or vomiting. If think you may have a strangulated hernia, contact your doctor immediately.

Make An Appointment

Yale Bariatric/Gastrointestinal Surgery Program
40 Temple Street, Suite 7B
New Haven, CT 06510

T 203.785.6060 or 203.785.2616
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