Skip to content

Understanding Hernia -- Diagnosis & Treatment

Font Size
A
A
A

How Is a Hernia Diagnosed?

A physical exam by your health care provider is often enough to diagnose a hernia. Sometimes hernia swelling is visible when you stand upright; usually, the hernia can be felt if you place your hand directly over it and then bear down. Ultrasound may be used to see a femoral hernia, and abdominal X-rays may be ordered to determine if a bowel obstruction is present.

What Are the Treatments for a Hernia?

In babies, umbilical hernias may heal themselves within four years, making surgery unnecessary. For all others, the standard treatment is conventional hernia-repair surgery (called herniorrhaphy). It is possible to simply live with a hernia and monitor it. The main risk of this approach is that the protruding organ may become strangulated -- its blood supply cut off -- and infection and tissue death may occur as a result. A strangulated intestinal hernia may result in intestinal obstruction, causing the abdomen to swell. The strangulation can also lead to infection, gangrene, intestinal perforation, shock, or even death.

Conventional Medicine for a Hernia

Your health care provider may manually press your hernia back into place and advise you to wear a special belt (called a truss) to hold the hernia in place until surgery. Over-the-counter pain relievers may help ease discomfort.

Hernia surgery is performed under either local or general anesthesia. The surgeon repositions the herniated tissue and, if strangulation has occurred, removes the oxygen-starved part of the organ. The damaged muscle wall will frequently be repaired with synthetic mesh or tissue.

Increasingly, herniorrhaphy is being performed using a laparoscope, a thin, telescope-like instrument that requires smaller incisions and involves a shorter recovery period and less post-operative pain. Hernia repairs are usually performed as an outpatient procedure. There are usually no dietary restrictions, and work and regular activity may usually be resumed in one or two weeks. Complete recovery takes three to four weeks, with no heavy lifting for two to three months. Ask your surgeon for specific instructions after your surgery.

Hernias may return after surgery, so preventive measures are especially important to help avoid a recurrence.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on March 30, 2014

Today on WebMD

man holding his stomach
Get the facts on common problems.
blueberries in a palm
Best and worst foods.
 
woman shopping
Learn what foods to avoid.
fresh and dried plums
Will it help constipation?
 
top foods for probiotics
Slideshow
couple eating at cafe
Article
 
sick child
Slideshow
Woman blowing bubble gum
Slideshow
 

Send yourself a link to download the app.

Loading ...

Please wait...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Woman with crohns in pain
Slideshow
Woman with stomach pain
Slideshow
 
diet for diverticulitis
Video
what causes diarrhea
Video