What is a Hernia?

A hernia is an abnormal protrusion of a bowel, stomach or content that causes a lump and/ or pain. The classic description is “an abnormal protrusion of a viscus (eg bowel, stomach, fat) through a defect beyond its normal boundaries. There are two types of hernias. Hernias can be congenital (ie. born with) and they can be acquired (usually after surgery).

Hernia Symptoms

Many hernias do not cause problems such as pain and blockage. However, once a hernia is established, they do not disappear as the defect or hole is present. Over time, they tend to increase in size. Sometimes, they can impair patient’s ability to function normally. Sometimes they are unsightly and occasionally can result in a surgical emergency. An emergency in this setting occurs when the hernia is stuck and painful or red. Do seek help quickly. Hernia following surgery can occur many months to years after the event. Often patients will notice a little lump that increases in size over a long time. Most will observe a lump, but sometimes pain and resultant anxiety.

Non-surgical Hernia Treatment

When surgical correction of a hernia is required, the surgeon will discuss the pros and cons of the procedure. On the other hand, your surgeon may elect not to repair a hernia that is not palpable but only ultrasound detected. The reason in adopting a “wait and see” approach is that any operation has the potential to cause more annoying problems that it aims to fix. Whilst it is true that the operation will fix the mechanical defect, there are known instances whereby pain can be attributed to the operation itself. This is known as “neuralgia”. Sometimes, the pain may not be from the hernia and there could be another reason.

Other factors to consider include the very small risk of bleeding, infection of prosthesis and not infrequently, seroma. A seroma is a cavity filled by fluid, in place of the space previously occupied by the hernia. Sometimes, the body reabsorbs all this fluid. Sometimes the body seals it (encases) and leaves the patient feeling a lump. The lump itself is not a hernia as the mechanical defect has been corrected.



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