A hernia is an abnormal protrusion of an organ or tissue through the muscle or tissue wall that usually contains it. It is a common medical issue that occurs most often in the abdominal wall when an organ such as the intestine pushes through a weak spot in the wall. The most common abdominal wall hernia is the inguinal hernia.

According to the FDA, approximately 800,000 hernia repair surgeries are conducted in the United States each year to treat inguinal hernias. Men are 8 to 10 times more likely to develop an inguinal hernia compared to women, and the risk increases with age; the occurrence of inguinal hernias is most common in people ages 75 to 80.

An inguinal hernia occurs when part of the small intestine or other tissues protrude through a weak spot or tear in the abdominal wall. When this occurs, the protrusion can cause pain, discomfort, and a visible bulge.

Other types of hernias can occur in the abdominal region as well as in other areas of the body such as the chest (posterior hernia), the groin (femoral hernia), and the umbilical region (umbilical hernia).

Hernias can be caused by several factors such as a previous surgery, a birth defect, obesity, straining to lift heavy objects, or by persistent coughing or sneezing. In addition, men are more likely than women to develop inguinal hernias due to their anatomy.

Hernias can be diagnosed with a physical examination and imaging tests such as an x-ray or an ultrasound. Treatment for hernias typically involve surgical repair to prevent the protruding organ or tissue from becoming strangulated (pinched or blocked) and to reduce the risk of complications such as infection.

It is important to seek medical attention if you are experiencing symptoms of a hernia such as pain or discomfort, a bulging sensation, or difficulty with bowel movements. Be sure to consult your doctor if you believe you may be at risk of developing a hernia.

When Is Hernia Surgery Required?

When it comes to hernias, emergency hernia surgery may be necessary in certain cases. Hernias are caused when an organ, tissue, or fatty tissue pushes through a weak spot or tear in the surrounding muscle or connective tissue.

Typically, hernias can be managed without surgery through lifestyle changes or medications. However, there are some circumstances that may require emergency hernia surgery.

If there are signs that your hernia has become stuck or strangulated, seek immediate medical attention as this can be life-threatening. Strangulation occurs when the hernia has become stuck in the abdominal wall and cuts off the blood supply to the organs in the hernia sac.

This can be a very serious situation and requires emergency hernia surgery. Signs of a strangulated hernia include:

  • A hernia bulge that is suddenly larger than before
  • A hernia bulge that used to go back inside the abdomen but no longer does
  • Fever
  • Redness in the area of the hernia
  • Sudden or severe pain or tenderness in the area of the hernia
  • Symptoms of intestinal obstruction, such as abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, and vomiting

If you experience any of the above symptoms, it is essential to seek medical attention immediately. Without emergency surgery, the hernia sac may become completely closed off, leading to further complications. Furthermore, the lack of blood flow to the organs inside the hernia sac can lead to damage, infection, or even death.

It is important to be aware of the signs of a strangulated hernia so that you can act quickly and seek medical attention when needed. Failure to do so can have serious consequences, so it is crucial to take all necessary steps to prevent emergency surgery.