What is a Hernia?

The abdominal wall has many functions.

  • To protects the bowels and abdominal organs
  • To help push out waste during urination and bowel movements
  • It maintains posture and is vital for many movements.

The abdominal wall is made up of a series of interconnecting muscles that work together to perform these functions. The muscles are held together by a cobweb of strong white tissue called fascia and these layers envelope the muscles. Nerves and arteries run between the muscle layers and pierce them at various points, supplying sensation, movement and blood to the muscle and skin.

A hernia occurs when there is a hole in any of the muscles or fascia of the abdominal wall. As the hole becomes bigger, a piece of bowel or fat from inside the abdominal cavity may protrude through this defect. A hernia will appear as a lump under the skin. It may become more prominent when standing up and might disappear or become smaller when lying down.

Hernias come in all shapes and sizes and can occur in many parts of the body, but most of them poke out through surgical scars (incisional hernia), the groin (inguinal hernia) or the belly button (umbilical hernia).