What is a hernia?

A hernia is a bulge of protrusion of an organ or tissue through the structure that contains it. Abdominal hernias are most common and are categorised by a weakness in the muscular structure of the wall of the abdomen allowing for protrusion of an organ or tissue.

What causes a hernia?

Hernias are caused by a combination of pressure and weakness of a muscle that allows for the protrusion of an organ or tissue through the weak spot. Activities which may cause a hernia include heavy lifting without the stabilisation of the abdominal muscles; diarrhoea or constipation; persistent coughing or sneezing or any activities that may weaken muscles such as obesity, poor nutrition, or smoking.


What are the types of abdominal hernias?

  • Inguinal hernias the intestine or through the abdominal wall or into the inguinal canal, which is in the groin area.
  • Femoral hernias occur when the intestine protrudes into the canal carrying the femoral artery into the upper thigh.
  • Umbilical hernias occur with the protrusion of the small intestine through the abdominal wall, close to the belly button.
  • Hiatal hernias occur due to the protrusion of a part of the upper stomach through the diaphragm opening.
  • An Incisional hernia is an intestine pushing through  the abdominal wall at the site of previous abdominal surgery.

What types of medical professionals are able to repair hernias?

A specialist general surgeon such as Dr Tendani Muthambi will be able to assist in the hernia surgery and treatment of abdominal hernias.

What are the treatment options for hernias?

Hernia surgery may be necessary to prevent strangulation of the gut in which the where blood supply is restricted to a specific area of tissue, requiring emergency surgery. There main two types of surgery for hernias are open surgery or laparoscopic operation depending on the severity of the case. Dr Tendani Muthambi will be able to discuss your individual needs and what can be done to ease your hernia related discomfort.

Risk factors

The risk factors for each type of hernia include:

Inguinal hernias

Those at high risk of having an this type are:

  • older adults
  • those who smoke
  • those who have had inguinal hernias before
  • males
  • chronic constipation sufferers
  • pregnancy

Femoral hernias

Those at risk to femoral hernias are those who are:

  • old age
  • females
  • obese
  • have had previous hernia repair

Umbilical hernias

These types are most common in infants with low birth weight and premature babies.

The risk factors for adults include:

  • being overweight
  • having multiple pregnancies
  • females

Hiatal hernias

Risk factors for hiatal hernias include:

  • people over the age of 50 years
  • obese individuals

Incisional hernia

Individuals  who  have  had  surgery  on  their  abdomen  are  most susceptible for 3-6 months after the procedure and should be wary of:

  • strenuous activity
  • gaining additional weight
  • becoming pregnant