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Common Types of Hernias (cont.)

Femoral Hernia

A femoral hernia (say "FEH-muh-rull HER-nee-uh") occurs when tissue bulges from the lower belly into the upper thigh, just below the groin crease. Femoral hernias occur more often in women than in men.

Pain from a femoral hernia is usually felt in the groin area. It is sometimes mistaken for an inguinal hernia.

A femoral hernia can be hard to diagnose. The hernia may be too small for your doctor to feel during a physical exam. You may need other tests. Often, a femoral hernia is found when part of the intestine is trapped and blood supply to the tissue is cut off. This is called a strangulated hernia. It requires emergency surgery.

Umbilical Hernia

An umbilical hernia occurs when intestine, fat, or fluid pushes through a weak spot in the belly. This causes a bulge near the belly button, or navel.

In children

Umbilical hernias often occur in infants. Most of the time, they close on their own by the time a baby is 1 year old. But sometimes surgery is needed. For more information about hernias in children, see the topic Umbilical Hernia in Children.

In adults

Umbilical hernias can also occur in adults. They can happen in people who have health problems that create pressure in the belly, such as being overweight, being pregnant, or having too much fluid in the belly (ascites). Other health problems can also lead to umbilical hernia. These include a chronic cough or constipation, and problems urinating because of an oversized prostate gland. Most of the time, a doctor can diagnose an umbilical hernia during a physical exam.

An umbilical hernia tends to get bigger over time. You may need surgery to treat it, especially if it gets bigger or becomes painful.

Without treatment, there is a risk of a strangulated hernia, which means that part of the intestine or fat is trapped and blood supply to the tissue is cut off. This can be very painful. It requires emergency surgery. Call your doctor right away if the bulge becomes swollen, painful, tender, or discolored.

Umbilical hernia repair is usually done as outpatient surgery. It has few risks. You will probably go home the same day you have surgery. During the procedure:

  • You have general anesthesia to make you sleep.
  • The surgeon makes a small cut, or incision, just below or above the navel.
  • Any tissue that bulges into the hernia sac is pushed back inside the belly.
  • The muscles and tissues around the navel are repaired. Your doctor may also lay a piece of mesh over or under the weak spot to strengthen the area and prevent the hernia from coming back.
  • The cut is closed with stitches.
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