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Hernia's > Why do Hernias occur?

A hernia is formed where a part of the body protrudes through a normal or abnormal defect, usually located around the abdominal wall. Hernias almost exclusively occur at the site of an abdominal wall weakness, that is where the 3 layers of muscle structure have been compromised anatomically.

The most common types of abdominal Hernia’s are termed Epigastric Hernia’s or Umbilical Hernia’s.

While the abdominal wall is a common place for Hernia’s to present, the most common place for Hernia’s to present is in the groin. There are 2 types of Hernia’s that present in the groin, inguinal hernia’s and femoral hernia’s. The femoral hernia is much lower in the body than an inguinal hernia and is relatively rarely occurring, primarily in females.

The inguinal hernia which is the most commonly occurring hernia can occur at any age. The prime reason inguinal hernia’s occur is due to the descent of the testes and its cords through the muscle wall of the groin into the scrotum leaving a potential weakness in the groin area. This area is where a hernia can form and protrude through the body. Activities or conditions that can increase intra abdominal pressure such as coughing, constipation, heavy lifting etc. can weaken the muscles in the groin and form a Hernia. Age also can weaken the muscles in the groin and cause the formation of Inguinal Hernias.

There are 2 types of inguinal hernias

  • Indirect inguinal hernia occurs at any age and in both males and females. It may be a developmental type of problem occurring frequently in newborns and infants.
  • Direct inguinal hernias rarely occur in children or women. It is uncommon under the age of 30-40. Direct inguinal hernias develop in a lax muscular wall, where the tissues either atrophy or develop a weakness, which allows the abdominal contents to push out.

Generally the indirect inguinal hernia is more dangerous. The Hernia protrudes through a narrow neck of muscle, which can trap the contents as opposed to, a direct inguinal hernia in which is just an enlarging bulge.

Types of Hernia’s

  1. Inguinal - in the groin
  2. Femoral - below the inguinal - relatively more common in females
  3. Epigastric - in the upper abdomen - midline - above the navel
  4. Umbilical - at the navel - common also in babies
  5. Incisional - in the scar of the previous surgery
  6. Recurrent - at the site of a previous hernia operation
  7. Unusual Hernaia - lumbar
  8. Hiatus Hernia - intra-abdominal

Hernias are described as:

  • Reducible Hernia’s disappear back into the abdomen temporarily.
  • Irreducible Hernia’s cannot be pushed back into the abdomen.
  • Incarcerated Hernia’s are irreducible and painful. This type of Hernia is becoming dangerous.
  • Obstructed Hernia’s is where the bowel is becoming blocked but is not dead. There is usually pain and vomiting and there may be an inability to pass flatus.
  • Strangulated Hernia’s has had its blood supply clamped off and the contents such as bowel or fat are in the process of dying. Urgent surgical correction is required for strangulated Hernia’s.

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