Hernia of the abdominal wall is protrusion of contents of the abdomen out through the muscular wall of the abdomen.

The symptoms may just be a bulge at the site of the hernia, but can also cause discomfort or pain. If the contents of the hernia become stuck out (incarcerated), the contents of the hernia may become damaged (strangulated) or even blocked (obstructed), and if this situation occurs it is an emergency.

The sites of abdominal wall hernia include:

  1. Inguinal (groin)
  2. Femoral (junction of groin and upper thigh)
  3. Epigastric (in the centre of the upper abdomen)
  4. Umbilical (at the ‘umbilicus’ or belly button)
  5. Incisional (at the site of a previous incision/operation)

A hernia can be fixed with an operation called a hernia repair. The repair involves pushing the contents of the hernia back where it would normally lie, and then closing the hernia orifice (hole). This can be done with sutures (stitches), but usually hernias are now also repaired with ‘mesh’ to cover the gap in the muscles of the abdominal wall. The mesh repair is much less likely to break down and so the hernia is less likely to recur.

An Abdominal Wall Hernia Repair is traditionally performed by an ‘open’ incision (larger cut) but in many circumstances itmay be appropriate and advantageous to perform by ‘Keyhole Surgery’.