Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery MBChB (UCT).
Fellow of South African College of Surgeons
Diploma in Obstetrics & Gynaecology
What is a hernia?
A hernia occurs when fat tissue or an organ squeezes through a gap in the muscular wall. Hernias usually appear in the abdomen, groin and upper thigh region.
Prevalent types of hernias include:
- Inguinal hernia: This type of hernia affects a majority of men. An inguinal hernia develops when the intestine or fatty tissue seeps into the groin at the upper region of the thigh.
- Umbilical hernia: An umbilical hernia develops when a portion of the intestines or fat tissue break through the abdomen in the region of the belly button.
- Hiatus hernia: This type of hernia develops when a portion of the stomach exits the diaphragm and migrates upwards into the chest cavity.
- Femoral hernia: Femoral hernias occur in a majority of older women. A femoral hernia forms a bulge near the upper thigh or groin region.
What causes a hernia?
Hernias arise from strain or weak muscles. Ageing, congenital disabilities, constipation, obesity and pregnancy are factors that contribute to muscle weakness.
What are the signs of a hernia?
A hernia that develops in the stomach region is quite noticeable. This lump tends to disappear when you lie down on your bed and may reappear when you laugh, cough or cry.
Further signs of a hernia include:
- Pain near the bulge
- A full sensation
The hernia surgeon inspects the bulge situated in the groin or abdominal region. She will check for changes in its size after you stand or cough.
After Dr Mitchell conducts a physical exam, she will ask questions related to your medical history, previous surgeries and family history of hernias.
Other tests to diagnose hernias include:
- Ultrasounds: An abdominal ultrasound creates images of the internal structure of the abdomen to diagnose hernias.
- CT scans: This test captures images of internal structures.
- MRIs: An MRI combines the use of radio waves and powerful magnets to capture images of internal structures.
- Endoscopy: For a hiatal hernia, Dr Mitchell performs an endoscopy. She slides a tube into the mouth, oesophagus and stomach to diagnose Hiatal hernias.
Dr Mitchell performs keyhole surgery to repair inguinal hernias. She makes small incisions in the abdominal region and pumps a harmless gas into the stomach for a closer view of the surgical site. As part of hernia surgery, she sews or staples a mesh over the vulnerable area. Once she repairs the hernia, she removes all her tools and releases the gas. The surgeon finally closes the cut through the use of staples or stitches.
You will most likely experience pain after laparoscopic surgery. Dr Mitchell will, however, prescribe medication to relieve the pain. You must avoid strenuous exercise or activity during this period. The hernia surgeon will provide instructions on how to clean and care for the surgical area.
Please note: The information provided above and on this website is for education and interest purposes only. It is not intended to replace a personal one-on-one consultation, nor is it meant to substitute professional medical advice, diagnose or treat any condition. A consultation with a specialist and qualified health care provider such as Dr Mitchell is essential for correct diagnosis and management, as well as to answer any queries that you may have. Never disregard or delay in seeking professional medical advice due to something you have read on this website. Dr Mitchell takes no responsibility for any errors or omissions present on this website and is not liable for any consequences that may occur from misinterpretation of the information on this website. In the event of uncertainty or an emergency, please visit your nearest casualty.