What is a hernia?
The abdominal cavity is surrounded by a muscle wall, and a hernia occurs where tissue from inside the abdominal cavity protrudes through this muscle wall.
What causes a hernia?
Sometimes a weakness in the abdominal muscle wall develops in a specific area, or a small hole appears. Different types of hernia are caused by different factors.
The three most common types of hernia are:
These can develop at the sites of surgical incisions from a previous procedure. They tend to more common in people who are undergoing chemotherapy after surgery to treat cancer, and in people whose immune systems are not working as they should. They are also common in obese patients, malnourished patients, and in patients who have developed an infection at a surgical incision site.
An inguinal hernia develops in the groin. There is a very common weakness in the muscle wall in this location, particularly in men rather than women. In men the hernia normally develops near blood vessels supplying blood to the testicles, and in women the hernia site is generally near a specific ligament in the groin.
The navel or 'belly button' is prone to hernia development as it is a naturally weaker section of the muscle wall. A hernia often develops just underneath the navel itself (i.e. the lower section of the navel).
How is a hernia treated?
In most cases surgery is needed to correct a hernia.