Hernias occur when someone strains an area where the muscles are weak, often by lifting heavy objects. Hernias typically occur in the abdomen - the abdominal walls tear and the inner lining pushes outward, forming a sac. A small part of an internal organ like the intestine goes into the sac and causes pain. Types of hernias include:
- Inguinal (in the groin)
- Umbilical (in the belly button)
- Incisional (the result of a scar)
- Hiatal (in the diaphragm/chest)
Hernias are treated through surgery - traditional or laparoscopic - which repairs the torn muscle. In a small number of patients, surgery doesn't work and has to be repeated. These are known as complex hernias. Other instances arise when an infection occurs at the site and when the abdomen shrinks, making it difficult to easily re-place the abdominal organs.
Complex hernias often cannot be treated in the same way as a traditional hernia. Several things are considered complex hernias including:
- When a patient has had more than one surgery, the tissue may become weak and need to be replaced or enhanced through the use of biomaterials that may help grow restored tissue.
- Having adhesions or mesh in the area from prior surgeries making procedures more difficult.
- When a patient has frequent infections, specialists will use the patient's tissue instead or mesh made from animal or human materials.
For more information on hernias, visit the U.S. Library of Medicine.