Condition treated

The most important point to remember is that everyone with a bowel problem can be helped and many can be completely cured.

It is never too late to get help with your bowel problems. If you would like some advice on how to approach your GP regarding your bowel problem do get in touch.

Representation of a human body showing common places for hernias. The lowest is femoral presented on the leg, followed by inguinal, just above the leg, umbilical where the stomach is and epigastric on top of the stomach.

About Hernias

A hernia is abnormal exit of tissue or an organ, such as the bowel, through the wall of the cavity in which it normally resides.

Most commonly hernias involve the abdomen, specifically the groin.

Inguinal hernia occurs when an intra-abdominal organ (bowel, bladder, appendix) squeezes through the lower abdominal wall into the groin. This is the most common form of hernia.
Femoral hernia happens when fatty tissue or a part of the bowel pushes through into the groin at the top of the inner thigh.
Umbilical hernia is when fatty tissue or a part of the bowel pushes through the abdomen close to the belly button (umbilicus).
Spigelian hernia is when part of the bowel/fatty tissue pushes through the abdominal wall muscles, below and lateral to the belly button.
Epigastric hernia is when fatty tissue pushes through the abdomen, between the belly button and breastbone (sternum).
Incisional hernia is when tissue pushes through a surgical wound in the abdomen that has not completely healed.

About Hernias

A hernia is abnormal exit of tissue or an organ, such as the bowel, through the wall of the cavity in which it normally resides.

Most commonly hernias involve the abdomen, specifically the groin.

Representation of a human body showing common places for hernias. The lowest is femoral presented on the leg, followed by inguinal, just above the leg, umbilical where the stomach is and epigastric on top of the stomach.
Inguinal hernia occurs when an intra-abdominal organ (bowel, bladder, appendix) squeezes through the lower abdominal wall into the groin. This is the most common form of hernia.
Femoral hernia happens when fatty tissue or a part of the bowel pushes through into the groin at the top of the inner thigh.
Umbilical hernia is when fatty tissue or a part of the bowel pushes through the abdomen close to the belly button (umbilicus).
Spigelian hernia is when part of the bowel/fatty tissue pushes through the abdominal wall muscles, below and lateral to the belly button.
Epigastric hernia is when fatty tissue pushes through the abdomen, between the belly button and breastbone (sternum).
Incisional hernia is when tissue pushes through a surgical wound in the abdomen that has not completely healed.

Symptoms


Some hernias produce no symptoms. However, most cases are associated with:

An obvious swelling/lump beneath the skin of the abdomen or the groin; it may disappear when lying down, and may be tender
A heavy feeling in the abdomen that is sometimes accompanied by constipation
Discomfort in the abdomen or groin when lifting or bending over

If a hernia cannot be pushed back and becomes very tender it might become strangulated (the organ contained in the hernia sac loses its blood supply); this is a surgical emergency.

Diagnosis


Most hernias are diagnosed by clinical examination alone. In some cases an Ultrasound Scan (US) or even a Computed Tomography (CT) scan might be needed to exclude other conditions or delineate the anatomy prior to surgery.

Treatment


In babies, umbilical hernias may heal themselves within four years, making surgery unnecessary. For all other hernias, the standard treatment is conventional hernia-repair surgery. Some hernias (bilateral groin hernias, recurrent hernias, incisional hernias) are better repaired laparoscopically (key-hole surgery).

Increasingly hernia repairs are performed using synthetic mesh, which reduce rates of recurrence to below 5%.

In most cases surgery is performed as a day-case, under a general, spinal or local anaesthetic, depending on the hernia characteristics, patient preference and co-existing diseases.

There are usually no dietary restrictions, and work and regular activity may usually be resumed in one or two weeks. Complete recovery takes 3 to 4 weeks with no heavy lifting for 2 to 3 months.

Complications


Although hernia surgery is considered straightforward, complications can sometimes occur:

Wound infection
Mesh infection
Chronic pain
Testicular swelling and pain
Urinary retention
Seroma
Recurrence