Peter J. Lydon, MD, FACS

What is a hernia?

A typical hernia is a weakness or tear in the abdominal wall which allows the inner lining of the abdomen to push through and form a sac. The hernia may fill with intestine or tissue which then may become incarcerated or obstructed, causing a potentially serious health risk.

Hernias can occur at birth or over time due to stress and strain. There are different types of hernias, but the overwhelming majority occur in the abdominal wall at the groin, the navel, or at the site of imperfectly healed surgical incisions. An easy way to envision a hernia is to think of old tires with inner tubes. When an abnormal opening occurs in such a tire, the inner tube protrudes from the opening. Similarly, a hernia occurs when an organ or tissue protrudes through an abnormal opening.

Will I know if I have a hernia?

Hernias are usually easily recognized. You may feel pain when lifting heavy objects, coughing, or straining during urination or bowel movements. You may also feel a bulge under your skin.

How are hernias repaired and what are my options?

Hernia repairs are one of the most commonly performed operations in the United States. Over 700,000 procedures are completed annually. This can only be accomplished by an operation performed to relieve the symptoms of pain and to prevent other more serious problems from occurring if the hernia is ignored. There are several operations available.