June is Hernia Awareness Month and to help educate you on what a hernia is, how they can be avoided and how they’re treated, we spoke with board-certified general surgeon Juan Omana, MD. Dr. Omana specializes in procedures that treat gastrointestinal conditions, hernias and endocrine disorders, and provides care for the body, mind and spirit to support his patients' overall well-being.
What is a Hernia?
“A hernia is a painful condition which happens when an internal organ pushes through the wall of muscle that holds it in,” explains Dr. Omana. “The most common types are inguinal, umbilical, femoral and hiatal hernias. Approximately 75 to 80 percent of all hernias are inguinal and they occur more often in men. Hernias usually occur in the abdominal cavity between your shoulders and hips.”
Hernias are caused by weakened muscle walls — which may have been present since your birth — and strains on those areas can cause a rupture leading to a hernia. Overexertion to these areas can have many causes including heavy lifting, pregnancy, obesity, straining on the toilet or coughing.
Types of Hernias
Inguinal hernia: These hernias differ in men and women due to our unique anatomies. In men they occur in the area from where the testes descended during puberty, and in women, they occur in a canal containing a round ligament used to support the womb during pregnancy. When an inguinal hernia occurs it’s either fatty tissue or intestine pushing through the muscle wall.
Umbilical hernia: This type of hernia occurs when fatty tissue or intestine protrudes through the abdomen near the navel. 10 to 20% of newborn babies have umbilical hernias but they usually close up by themselves by age five.
Femoral hernia: Mainly affecting older women, this type of hernia happens when fatty tissue or intestine pushes through the muscle wall into the groin at the top of the inner thigh.
Hiatal hernia: The muscle wall involved in this type of hernia is actually the diaphragm. An organ, usually the stomach, pushes through the diaphragm wall and up into the chest cavity. Diaphragmatic hernias are similar but caused by different organs pushing up into the chest cavity.
Ventral or incisional hernia: This hernia is located along the vertical center of the stomach wall in the case of a ventral hernia and an incisional hernia can be found anywhere in the abdominal cavity. Incisional hernias are caused by a previous surgery which weakened the muscle wall.
Epigastric and Spigelian hernias: These are hernias located between the belly button or navel and the sternum, and at the side of the abdominal wall below the navel, respectively.
Treatment for Hernias
“Once a hernia becomes painful and is affecting your everyday life, you’ll need surgery to repair it,” says Dr. Omana. “Most of the time, these are outpatient procedures using minimally invasive surgical techniques with a laparoscope or robotic-assisted surgery. These techniques require only a few small incisions which greatly speeds up your healing time.”
During this procedure up to two hernias can be repaired with one surgery. A special mesh is used to hold the muscle wall together and has a long-term success rate of over 98%. Depending on the type of work you do and your discomfort level, you can usually be back to work within two to three weeks. Inguinal, ventral, incisional and umbilical hernias can all be repaired with minimally invasive surgery.
To repair other hernias, classic open surgical techniques must be employed and have longer recovery times due to the nature of the surgery. These procedures are inpatient and require a hospital stay for observation.
Choose AdventHealth for Your Hernia Surgery
The world-class team of award-winning surgeons at AdventHealth are dedicated to your whole health and quick recovery. AdventHealth has continually invested in the future of medicine and advanced procedures for your convenience and well-being. Our surgeons have hundreds of hours of advanced training with the newest surgical procedures and equipment such as the da Vinci robotic assisted surgical system and laparoscope to heal you in the most effective and least invasive way possible.