Hernias are a common affliction among American adults. In fact, over 18 million are diagnosed each year with the majority being inguinal, or groin, hernias occurring in male patients. While it is possible to develop such a hernia without realizing it, the majority are symptomatic in some way and surgical repair is often recommended. Here are the details that patients need to know regarding the condition, including how it occurs, who is most at risk, and how it may be treated.
Two Types of Inguinal Hernias
Inguinal hernias are lumps in the groin region that occur when fatty tissue or part of the bowel protrudes through the abdominal muscles. They are categorized in one of two forms:
- Indirect: The result of a congenital condition in which a specific muscle area known as the inguinal ring fails to fully close. Hernias occurring in children and young adults are often of this nature.
- Direct: The result of weakened abdominal muscles due to a number of potential factors. This is most often observed in men over the age of 40.
What Causes Direct Inguinal Hernias?
The weakened abdominal muscles that allow the development of direct inguinal hernias can occur from a wide range of causes. In many cases, this weakness occurs gradually due to age or everyday use. In other instances, the muscles may weaken or tear under sudden strain, such as lifting a heavy object. Additionally, there are certain risk factors that may increase an individual’s likelihood of developing a hernia. These include:
- Being male
- Family history of hernias
- Low BMI (body mass index)
- Cystic fibrosis (or other condition leading to a chronic cough)
How are Inguinal Hernias Treated?
When hernias are small and asymptomatic, a physician may advise waiting and keeping a watchful eye on the condition. However, many are best treated with laparoscopic surgical repair. This technique is minimally invasive and uses multiple small incisions, special surgical instruments, and a scope with camera to guide repair. A mesh patch is then placed to repair the defect within the muscle. While there are other surgical options such as open repair, this laparoscopic technique offers some important benefits, including pain reduction and a lower rate of recurrence.
If you are suffering from a hernia, prompt treatment is important in order to avoid complications such as hernia strangulation and diminished blood supply to intestinal tissue. See your doctor quickly to discuss the nature and severity of your hernia, as well as to explore potential treatment options such as the laparoscopic surgical technique offered by Lane Surgery Group. Click below to learn more about our team of surgeons, facility, and procedures commonly performed.