You may notice a lump or swelling at the abdomen or groin. A hernia occurs when an organ pushes through a weak spot in the muscle or tissue that holds it in place.

It may cause pain or discomfort. In the beginning, you notice the swelling worsens after standing or walking for long hours. It disappears or reduces in size when you lie flat.

Umbilical hernia. Image credit: The Star (Malaysia)
Umbilical hernia. Image credit: The Star (Malaysia)

A hernia can be present at birth or develop later in life. It is usually caused by muscle weakness or increased pressure in the abdominal cavity for the latter.

The common causes include:

  • Chronic constipation
  • Chronic cough
  • Strenuous exercise
  • Heavy weight lifting
  • Overweight or obesity
Constipation may cause a hernia.
Constipation may cause a hernia.

Types of Hernia

Types of hernia.
Types of hernia.

A hernia is named after the affected area. These include:

  • epigastric
  • inguinal hernia
  • femoral hernia
  • umbilical hernia
  • incisional hernia

They are caused by intestines or other organs pushing through a weak point in the abdominal muscles.

Complications of Hernia

A hernia can get trapped and is unable to move back to its original place. This blocks the passage of the intestines.

If left untreated, the blood supply carrying nutrients and oxygen to the intestine could be stopped. The affected intestines will stop functioning.

This condition is life-threatening and requires emergency surgery to prevent the death of the trapped organ.

A trapped hernia is a life-threatening condition.
A trapped hernia is a life-threatening condition.

Hernia Surgery

A surgeon will usually use a surgical mesh (similar to a net) to patch the weak spot. This can be done via traditional open surgery or the minimally invasive surgery which is called the laparoscopic surgery.

Laparoscopic surgery has a few added advantages as compared to the traditional ones.

Recent studies showed that patient who underwent laparoscopic hernia repair returned to usual daily routine/activities sooner (about 7 days). There are less pain and numbness as well.

In laparoscopic hernia repair, the surgeon will make 2-3 small incisions over the involved area. A laparoscope and surgical instruments will be inserted through these incisions.

With the laparoscope, the surgeon is able to view the abdominal cavity and surrounding tissues on an external monitor screen while repairing the hernia.


Dr Cha Kar Huei

MD (Canada) FACS (USA)
Consultant Bariatric and General Surgeon

Dr Cha is a surgeon at the Subang Jaya Medical Centre (SJMC). He graduated from Dalhousie University, Canada in 1998. He entered surgical training at Massachusetts General Hospital and completed his training at the University of Wisconsin in 2004.

He trained at the New York University Medical Centre on minimally invasive bariatric surgery and attained a Fellow of the American College of Surgeon in 2009.

Dr Cha is experienced in minimally invasive surgery with an interest in bariatric surgery. He is also a member of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS).

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