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Tulane Doctors ~ Hernia Surgery Center ~ Hernia Types

The term “hernia” refers to a condition when an internal part of the body protrudes through an opening into an area where it does not belong. Hernias are characterized by their location in the body and occasionally by their specific cause. They can occur in men and women of all ages, and in children as well.

Inguinal Hernia

  • Weakened area of the abdominal wall or into the inguinal canal in the groin.
  • Approximately 80% of all hernias are inguinal and most occur in men due to a natural weakness in this area.
Umbilical (bellybutton) Hernia

  • Often present in babies at birth as a lump at the bellybutton (the umbilicus). 
  • If the opening is small (less than half an inch) this type of hernia will usually close by itself by the time the child reaches 2 years of age.
  • Larger hernias generally do not close by themselves and usually require surgery when the child is between 2 and 4 years of age.
  • Umbilical hernias can also appear in elderly people and middle-aged women who have had children.
Incisional (Ventral) Hernia

  • The incision that is required to perform abdominal surgery creates an area of weakness in the abdominal wall; occasionally this can result in a hernia, months or years after the procedure.
Sports-Related Hernia

  • Occur due to sports related stresses, exertion or injuries when muscles in the lower abdomen tear, resulting in discomfort in the lower abdomen and groin area.
  • Sports hernias do not present a bulge in the skin and are often confused with groin strains.
Epigastric Hernia

  • Occurs between the navel and the lower part of the rib cage in the midline of the abdomen.
  • In an area of relative weakness of the abdominal wall.
  • This type of hernia occurs mainly in men and generally in people 20-50 years of age.
Hiatal Hernia

  • Occur when the upper stomach protrudes through the hiatus, an opening in the diaphragm.
  • A large hiatal hernia may require surgery if it is of the size that allows food and stomach acid to back up into the esophagus.
Femoral Hernia

  • The femoral canal is where the femoral artery, vein, and nerve leave the abdominal cavity to enter the thigh.
  • Although normally a tight space, it sometimes becomes large enough to allow abdominal contents (usually intestine) to be pushed into the canal.
  • A femoral hernia causes a bulge below the inguinal crease in roughly the middle of the thigh.
  • They are not common and occur in women.
  • They are always repaired due to the high risk of limiting the blood supply to the intestine or hernia sac.
Spigelian Hernia

  • This rare hernia occurs along the edge of the rectus abdominus muscle, several inches to the side of the middle of the abdomen, and can be difficult to diagnose.
Obturator Hernia

  • Is a relatively rare abdominal hernia that occurs mostly in women.
  • No bulge appears, but the hernia can act like a bowel obstruction and cause distress, nausea and vomiting.
  • It can be a difficult hernia to diagnose.
Flank Hernia

  • Most often occur as a result of an injury to the side of the abdominal wall or after a surgery on the kidneys.
  • Historically this was a difficult hernia to repair but with the advent of new surgical materials and techniques success rates have improved significantly.