A hernia is a tear or weakening in the body’s muscular wall that, if left untreated, may cause serious problems. Hernias are a common cause of intestinal obstruction and typically occur in the groin, abdomen and upper thigh. Hernias become noticeable when a "sac" of fat, tissue or intestine protrudes from the hernia defect. This often presents as a bulge or lump at the site. The bulge may vary in size and shape and can often be manually pushed back into its normal position. Though not all hernias cause discomfort, patients may report that strenuous activities such as heavy lifting will make the symptoms worse. If severe enough, even normal activities like sneezing, urination or having a bowel movement may cause pain.
Surgery is the recommended treatment for hernias. At Brigham and Women’s Hospital, hernia repairs are done by board certified general and gastrointestinal surgeons using minimally invasive laparoscopic techniques, which result in smaller incisions, less pain and a quicker recovery.
There are several types of hernias:
General and gastrointestinal surgeons at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) utilize a range of procedures for diagnosing hernias:
The surgical method used to repair a hernia depends on the type, size and location of the hernia. Brigham and Women’s Hospital general and gastrointestinal surgeons are experts in both surgical options:
You will receive a thorough diagnostic examination to evaluate if you have a hernia and if surgery is needed. Careful monitoring and the involvement of an experienced general surgeon are important to the successful outcome for patients with hernia conditions.
If you are having surgery or a procedure, you will likely be scheduled for a visit to the Weiner Center for Preoperative Evaluation for pre-operative information and tests.
The day of surgery, you will be taken care of in the operating room by surgeons, anesthesiologists and nurses who have expertise in hernias. After surgery, you will go to the post-surgical care unit where you will receive comprehensive care by our experienced surgical and nursing staff.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital provides a multidisciplinary approach to patient care by collaborating with colleagues who have extensive experience diagnosing and treating hernias. In addition, patients have full access to BWH’s world-renowned academic medical community with its diverse specialists and state-of-the-art facilities.
Go to our health library to learn more about hernias.
Visit the Kessler Health Education Library in the Bretholtz Center for Patients and Families to access computers and knowledgeable staff.
Visit the Weiner Center for Preoperative Evaluation.
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