Recognizing and Treating Hernias
Jun 1, 2013
The National Center for Health Statistics estimates that
approximately 5 million people in the U.S. have a hernia, though only a
very small percentage of these people seek treatment. Knowing how to
spot a hernia and when to seek medical treatment can save you
unnecessary pain and help you enjoy life’s activities.
A hernia happens when the lining of the abdominal cavity forms a sac,
which breaks through a hole or weak area in the strong layer of
three most common types that I see are groin, or inguinal, hernias;
belly button, or umbilical, hernias; and incisional hernias that develop
where a patient has had a previous surgery,” says Nisha Dhir, MD, FACS,
(pictured right). While hernias are sometimes seen in infants and
children, they are most commonly found in adults. They may be caused by
overexertion, straining to lift heavy objects, or any activity that
increases internal abdominal pressure. Age, pregnancy, or previous
surgeries can also lead to a hernia.
A physician can usually diagnose a hernia with a physical exam.
Discomfort or pain, which may increase with standing, straining or
lifting, can be a sign of a hernia. Often, patients will notice a growth
that feels sensitive or tender. If a patient has a persistent pain in
the abdomen without a noticeable growth, they may require an ultrasound
or MRI to diagnose a small hernia.
Surgery is the only way to permanently fix a hernia. For smaller
hernias, open surgery with a very small incision will be used.
“The Stephen & Roxanne Distler Center for Ambulatory Surgery
provides patient and family comfort and is a great place for these
smaller, outpatient hernia repairs,” says Dr. Dhir, who is board
certified in general surgery. “The bigger hernias, which might require
laporoscopic surgery or robotic surgery, can be taken care of at UMCPP’s
Center for Surgical Care.”
University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro’s (UMCPP) Center for Surgical Care
offers eight state-of-the-art operating suites, plus a hybrid operating
room, which allows surgeons to move from a minimally invasive procedure
to a fully open surgery without moving the patient or interrupting the
The Stephen & Roxanne Distler Center for Ambulatory Surgery
features four state-of-the-art operating suites, a minor procedures
room, and three endoscopy rooms, allowing patients to see doctors
quickly, have their procedures, and return home the same day.
Getting medical treatment as soon as possible is important for
patients with a hernia. Untreated, it may get bigger and strangulate
(when the tissue is stuck inside the hole and its blood supply is cut
off) which can cause extreme pain. See your doctor if you have groin
pain, swelling, or a bulge. Call your doctor immediately if the pain
associated with your hernia increases, you develop nausea, vomiting, or
fever, or if the area around your hernia becomes discolored.
For more information on the Center for Surgical Care, the Stephen
& Roxanne Distler Center for Ambulatory Surgery, or to find a
surgeon on staff, call 1.888.PHCS4YOU (1.888.742.7496) or visit www.princetonhcs.org