A hernia occurs when an organ pushes through an opening in the muscle or tissue that holds it in place. For example, the intestines may break through a weakened area in the abdominal wall.

Hernias are most common in the abdomen. However, they can also appear in the upper thigh, belly button, and groin regions. Though the majority of hernias are not immediately life threatening, they will not go away on their own and will require surgical correction to prevent potentially dangerous complications.

What Causes a Hernia?

Hernias are caused by a combination of muscle weakness and strain. A hernia can develop quickly or over a long period of time, depending on its cause.

Common causes of muscle weakness include:

  • Failure of the abdominal wall to close properly in the womb (congenital defect)
  • Age
  • Chronic coughing
  • Damage from injury or surgery

Surgery and Treatment Options for Hernias

If your hernia is growing larger or causing you pain, your doctor may decide that it’s best to operate. Your doctor may repair your hernia by sewing the hole in the abdominal wall closed during surgery. However, the more common treatment for hernias is to patch the hole with surgical mesh.

Hernias can be repaired with either open or laparoscopic surgery. Laparoscopic surgery uses a tiny camera and miniaturized surgical equipment to repair the hernia using only a few small incisions. Laparoscopic surgery is less damaging to the surrounding tissue.