A hernia occurs when part of an internal organ or tissue pushes through a weak area of muscle, creating a bulge. It is caused by muscle weakness and straining. Some people are born with weak muscles in the stomach area (abdomen), where most hernias occur, and this makes it more likely that they will develop a hernia later in life. There are many types of hernias, and men and women tend to be at risk for different types. The most common treatment is surgery to repair the opening in the muscle wall. Without treatment, hernias usually keep growing, often causing pain and other problems.
A few of the most common types of hernias are described below:
- Inguinal hernias are the most common, and they are seen much more often in men than in women. They occur in the groin area, in a part of the abdominal wall known as the inguinal canal.
- Ventral hernias can occur in nearly any part of the abdominal wall. One of the most common types is the incisional hernia, which develops from incisions (cuts) in the abdominal muscles, such as those made during a surgery. These hernias commonly appear near surgical scars, where the muscle and tissue underneath is weakened.
- Umbilical hernias occur near the belly button and usually are harmless. They are most common in infants but can affect adults, too.
At UAB Medicine, our hernia specialists (herniologists) understand that treating a hernia can be a complex process that demands time, skill, and a complete approach to care. Although hernia surgery is very common, we believe each patient deserves special attention, to help ensure that the repair is done thoughtfully to avoid future problems.
Our herniologists repair over 200 inguinal (groin) hernias and 250-plus ventral (abdominal wall) hernias each year, and many of these are complicated “redo” surgeries that were originally performed at other hospitals. We understand that new, cutting-edge approaches to hernia repair should be used whenever possible. For that reason, we offer:
- Minimally invasive surgery, which requires only small incisions (cuts).
- Enhanced recovery plans that speed up healing and minimize pain after surgery.
- Minimally invasive abdominal wall reconstruction (using small cuts) for large complex hernias, which decrease pain and speed up recovery. Very few hospitals in the country are routinely performing these operations.
- Mesh removal surgery.
- Management of chronic groin pain.
- Complete anesthesia and pain management services, including nerve blocks to decrease pain after surgery.
- Botox injections can relax the abdominal wall prior to surgery, making closure of the abdominal wall more feasible in certain circumstances.
Hernia surgery can lead to problems such as chronic pain, injury to vital organs, or the hernia coming back. Once these problems occur, they are difficult to fix. UAB Medicine wants your next hernia repair to be your last, so we will do everything possible to make the surgery successful. To help you succeed, we may offer referrals to other UAB Medicine services such as:
- Weight loss
- Bariatric surgery
- Smoking cessation
- Pain management
UAB is an active participant in research and clinical trials. We encourage you to speak to your physician about research and clinical trial options and browse the link below for more information.View Clinical Trials
Abhisek Parmar, MD
Minimally Invasive Hernia Surgery
Hernias represent extremely common surgical problems but the minimally invasive treatment of hernias is relatively new. In this podcast Abhisek Parmar, MD discusses the benefits of minimally invasive surgery including the application to inguinal, hiatal, and large abdominal wall hernias that require complex abdominal wall reconstruction.