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Abdominal hernia

A hernia is a protrusion of an internal organ or a part of an organ from the cavity where it normally resides, through a preexisting or an acquired defect in the abdominal wall. If you are a regular boater and you notice a swelling in your abdominal wall, you should discuss it with your physician. If you're diagnosed with a hernia, you should weigh the risk of incarceration or strangulation before going boating. And if you're planning a longer voyage, away from emergency medical services, you should have a hernia surgically repaired before your departure.A hernia of the abdominal wall is among the most common problems that may require a surgical solution. Although there are no accurate statistics, it is estimated that 10 percent of people suffer a hernia during their lifetime and that in the United States more than one million people undergo a hernia repair each year. A hernia is a protrusion of an internal organ or a part of an organ from the cavity where it normally resides, through a preexisting or an acquired defect in the abdominal wall. Most abdominal wall hernias are external and may be visible as a permanent or periodic bump in your groin (these are called an inguinal or a femoral hernia), around your belly button (an umbilical hernia) or along the midline of your belly (a ventricular hernia). Internal abdominal hernias are the protrusion of an abdominal organ into another internal space. The most common hernia of this sort is a hiatal hernia, which is a protrusion of part of your stomach through your diaphragm into your chest cavity.

The most common kind of abdominal wall hernia is an inguinal hernia, which is a protrusion of part of the intestine through the abdominal wall in the groin or, sometimes in men, into the scrotum. There are about 700,000 surgical repairs of inguinal hernias in the U.S. every year. Inguinal hernias are classified as indirect or direct. Indirect inguinal hernias occur as a result of incomplete closure of the passage through which the testicles descend from the abdomen into the scrotum; they usually become evident early in life but can manifest themselves at any time. Direct inguinal hernias occur due to a weakening of the muscular wall of the abdomen. The incidence of direct inguinal hernias increases with age; they affect about 25 percent of males and 2 percent of females over age 40. Risk factors for an inguinal hernia include being male, doing heavy lifting, and straining such as from chronic coughing or to overcome constipation.

Most inguinal hernias appear as a painless swelling or bulge in the groin. The bulge may occur gradually or may come on suddenly after heavy lifting. In the beginning, the bulge is typically reversible if you lie down or can be reduced if you apply light pressure. However, it progresses with time, becomes larger and no longer reduces easily. Once pain or tenderness are evident, a hernia requires urgent evaluation. If a hernia cannot be reduced at all, it is considered to be incarcerated and requires surgical repair. And if a hernia causes your intestine to become twisted, a painful emergency condition called strangulation occurs. The blood flow to your intestine is interrupted, and if the problem isn't corrected within hours the affected part of your intestine will die due to lack of oxygen. That results in inflammation and infection, which can be fatal if it's not treated.

Most people who experience an external abdominal wall hernia detect it by themselves. If you are a regular boater and you notice a swelling in your abdominal wall, you should discuss it with your physician. If you're diagnosed with a hernia, you should weigh the risk of incarceration or strangulation before going boating. And if you're planning a longer voyage, away from emergency medical services, you should have a hernia surgically repaired before your departure. The surgery itself usually doesn't take long, but you will likely need to convalesce, on a regimen of limited physical activity, for some time.


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