A hernia, also known somewhat misleadingly as a rupture, is an abnormal protrusion of the peritoneum through a hole in the abdominal wall in the area of an anatomically existing or newly developed weak point in the connective tissue. Contents of the abdomen (e.g. intestine) may force themselves out through such holes. The genetically determined quality of the connective tissue appears to play a decisive role in this – which is a focus of further research. However, it certainly influences deliberations when choosing what type of procedure to use for corrective surgery.
The most common type is the inguinal hernia, but ruptures with protrusions can also be found in the umbilical area, above the stomach or near scars from abdominal surgery, as well as in rarer locations.
The subjective appearance of cases ranges from no discomfort (coincidental diagnosis during an unrelated examination) to visible and palpable bulges, a sensation of pressure and entrapment, pain and difficulty when repositioning the protruding organ, acute entrapment and emergency operations.
Corrective surgery closes the hole, whether by suturing the existing tissue or – as is becoming more common – strengthening it with a mesh insert.