What are the types of hernias? A hernia is a structural failure of confining muscles or tissues, resulting in the relocation of part of an internal organ into a region of the body it should be in.
Hernias vary in severity and prominence; some may be totally harmless and virtually impossible to discern while other types of hernias require emergency surgery.
Hernias are usually classified on the basis of their anatomical location: the different types of hernias can also be classified according to the when they occur (congenital or non-congenital) or whether or not the protrusions they cause can be flattened or not.
Types of hernias according to anatomical location
On the basis of anatomical location, hernias can be inguinal, femoral, umbilical, spigelian, epigastric or hiatal
By far the most common hernias, they make up more than two-thirds of all cases of adult hernias, and are more prevalent in males than in females. There are two subtypes of this hernia, both occurring in the inguinal crease. An indirect inguinal hernia is a hernia that develops due to a weakness in the internal inguinal ring, along a pathway that was open during fetal development to allow for the descent of the testicles from the abdomen into the scrota. It is not uncommon for the hernia to pour out into the scrotum. This pathway usually closes before birth; its failure to seal up then means an indirect inguinal hernia may occur at any point in one’s life. A direct inguinal hernia occurs through a weak point on the posterior wall of the inguinal canal. Consequently, it is very rare for this hernia to spill into the scrotum. It frequently occurs in older individuals because this weak point weakens even farther with advancing age.
These types of hernias frequently occur in women. In this kind of hernias, abdominal content is pushed through the femoral canal, just below the inguinal canal, where the wall of the canal is weak.
While the navel for most people properly closes up and recedes after birth for most people, for some it becomes a prominent hernia. This occurs due to the failure of an opening in the abdomen from properly closing up, thus allowing abdominal content to spill out through this weakness. Umbilical hernias can also occur in pregnant women.
A weakness in the spigelian fascia in the abdominal cavity results in this kind of hernia. They are hard to detect because they are often sandwiched between the rectus abdominis muscles and are consequently not very prominent.
They are composed primarily of fats and occur in the epigastrium. A weakness in the linea alba in this region is the main reason for their occurrence.
This is essentially a diaphragmatic hernia in which the stomach ascends into the diaphragmatic cavity from its normal position in the abdominal cavity. There are two sub-types of hernias in this grouping; sliding and non-sliding hiatal hernias. Of the two, non-sliding hiatal hernias are more dangerous as they can result in the stomach rotating and consequently obstructing itself.
The list presented above only highlights the most commonly encountered types of hernias; there are many more different types out there.