A hernia occurs when an organ dislocates from its place through a cavity between the muscles or tissues that hold the organ. This situation often occurs in the abdominal region between the chests and hips where the intestines emerge through weak abdominal walls. Also, the groin area and upper thighs are the other parts where hernias appear. Having a hernia isn’t a life-threatening situation; however, it is important to remember that surgery is required to correct this disorder. If left untreated, it can lead to life-threatening complications.
Symptoms of Hernia
Most often, the hernia does not show any symptoms. However, certain types of hernia can show symptoms of a swelling or a bulge in the affected area. This lump can cause discomfort or pain while under pressure from coughing, standing or bending down. Sometimes hernias are not diagnosed until it shows up during a regular medical exam or check-up.
How is Hernia Diagnosed
A hernia often does not need any medical tests to diagnose the problems. It can be recognised by the appearance of a lump or a bulge in the affected area. However, if you do not notice any swelling and suffer from severe pain, your doctor would go for a physical examination. During the physical examination, your doctor will apply pressure on the affected areas with his hands to feel the presence of any lumps. The other ways of diagnosing hernia are –
● CT Scan – CT scan produces X-ray images of the affected area with the help of computer technology.
● Abdominal Ultrasound – Helps in finding abnormal structures inside the body with the help of high-frequency soundwaves.
● MRI Scan – Creates images of internal organs with a combination of strong magnets and radio waves.
Diagnosis of hiatal hernia is done by assessing the internal parts of the stomach area. This is done by –
Gastrografin or barium X-ray – In this procedure, multiple X-ray images of the digestive tract is captured after consuming a liquid containing diatrizoate meglumine and diatrizoate sodium (Gastrografin) or a liquid barium solution. This helps in capturing clear pictures of the digestive tract.
Endoscopic – This procedure helps in capturing images of the hernia present in the stomach area by passing a small camera attached to a tube through the oesophagus to reach the stomach.
Treatment Options available: Types of Hernia Surgery
There are many types of hernia and are classified based on the area of occurrence. Some of the common types of hernia are –
Hiatal Hernia – This type of hernia appears in the stomach region where a small part of the stomach bulges out through the diaphragm into the chest cavity. Sometimes it can occur in children if they have a congenital disability.
Inguinal Hernia – This is the most common type of hernia. An inguinal hernia occurs in the abdominal region where the intestine breaks through the weak areas of the abdominal wall. Men are mostly affected by this kind of hernia.
Ventral Hernia – This one occurs when a weak tissue in the abdominal area bulges out through the openings in the muscles. Ventral hernia happens during childbirth. Some of the other factors are obesity, pregnancy and stressful activity.
Umbilical Hernia – Newborns have a condition of umbilical hernia, which is very common. A bulge near the child’s belly button can be noticed as the intestine bulges through the abdominal wall. This condition is corrected on its own once the abdominal wall muscle gets rigid. An umbilical hernia can also occur in adults due to pregnancy and obesity.
Treatments for Hernia
Surgery is the only effective way of treating or curing a hernia. Surgery can be finalized depending upon the size of the hernia present, and the discomfort caused. In other ways, a hernia can be managed effectively by –
● Wearing a truss to ease discomfort caused by hernia. A truss helps in keeping the hernia in place. You need to consult a doctor to pick the right fit before using it.
● Over the counter medications can help in reducing stomach acids that can ease you from discomforts of hiatal hernia.
Surgery Risks and Recovery
Hernia surgery can be performed in two different ways.
Open Surgery – In this procedure, an incision is made in the affected area to cut open the skin and push the hernia back to its place or remove it. For larger hernias, a flexible mesh is added to give support that keeps the hernia in place.
Laparoscopic Surgery – In this procedure the abdomen in bloated using a harmless gas to get a clear image of the abdominal organs. Later small incisions are made near the hernia to insert thin tubes with tiny cameras in the end. A small mesh is guided through the laparoscope to fix the hernia.
Recovery from laparoscopic surgery is quicker when compared to open surgery. Generally, there are no complications in recovering from both types of surgeries, and that depends on the lifestyle and health factors of the patient as well.