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How do I get a Hernia Diagnosis?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated Feb 05, 2024
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Hernias can be painful and greatly impact your quality of life. For this reason, it is imperative to see a doctor immediately when you suspect that a hernia may be present in the abdomen or the groin area. Your physician will utilize several methods to determine if a hernia diagnosis is called for, then proceed with an effective course of treatment. Here are some examples of how your doctor may go about arriving at this type of diagnosis.

In many cases, it is possible to arrive at a hernia diagnosis on the basis of a simple but thorough physical examination. Depending on the size and type of protrusion, the physician may be able to diagnose your condition by simply pressing lightly on the impacted area. If the patient is experiencing symptoms that are commonly identified with a hernia, this will help to reinforce the possibility that a hernia is present. Your doctor may also use a stethoscope to listen for subtle changes in your body while having you cough.

However, not all hernias provide a wealth of data that can be identified in a simple exam. When this is the case, your physician will have to utilize other methods to determine if a hernia diagnosis is in order. These may include ordering a computerized tomography or CT scan to identify the presence of any abnormalities. In other instances, your doctor may order an MRI or nuclear magnetic resonance imaging, especially if there is a suspicion that the hernia is mainly embedded in the abdominal wall and not yet beginning to protrude.

Along with these tests, there is also one other test that your physician may consider necessary before settling on a hernia diagnosis. Known as a diagnostic laparoscopy, this is a mildly invasive procedure that is done under general anesthesia. A scope is placed directly into the abdominal cavity, allowing the physician to examine the abdominal walls in minute detail. Typically, this procedure is only utilized if other methods of evaluating the possible presence of a hernia do not yield conclusive results.

Once your physician has diagnosed the presence of a hernia, it is possible to begin administering the proper treatment. The actual treatment process will vary, based on a number of factors, including age, the location and size of the hernia, and the degree of discomfort the patient is currently experiencing. However, it is impractical to initiate any course of treatment before there is a verified hernia diagnosis in place.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including WiseGeek, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments
By B707 — On Jun 21, 2011

Oh, what problems our bodies can have. At times, the tendency to have hernias is due to circumstances that we can't help. For example, too many pregnancies for our particular body, injuries,and just having thin and weak abdominal walls. Now, if you get a hernia from lifting improperly or not exercising your stomach muscles to avoid damage, then you have to look at the way you do things.

I'm glad there are ways to repair the condition to a certain degree. Hopefully, doctors will find better methods of taking care of hernias.

By ladyjane — On Jun 21, 2011

Did you know that it's possible for a woman to develop ahernia after multiple pregnancies? That's what happened to my sister about two years after the birth of her third child. Yes, after only three pregnancies the walls of the stomach can become so thin that too much strain in this area can puncture a small hole in the lining causing an umbilical hernia.

Shortly after the birth of the third child, her and her family relocated and of course she did a lot of heavy lifting at that time. She also coughs a lot from smoking which only adds more stress to the stomach walls.

The hernia symptoms had weakened her stomach walls so much that it looked like she was pregnant again in her second trimester. There was no pain involved, only a heavy bloated feeling and always a loose bowel.

She was frightened that she might have cysts or even cancer, but after her second doctor's visit they determined that it was a hernia. They repaired it with a surgical mesh on an outpatient basis and today she is doing fine. She doesn't smoke anymore either!

By Eviemae — On Jun 21, 2011

Abdominal hernias can be quite painful and very dangerous. If you allow a hernia to persist you risk the chance of it becoming strangulated, or even to get a slipping hernia.

A slipping hernia is more or less where the intestines move in and out of the hole in the abdominal wall. The problem with this is that the intestines could basically get stuck and be pinched.

When this happens, this section of bowel is not getting oxygenated blood and begins to die off – much like if a person is asphyxiated; they can get brain damage from lack of oxygen. The longer they are without the oxygen the worse the brain damage is.

The same is true of a strangulated hernia (which is what happens when the slipping hernia gets stuck); a lot of bowel can die off, and it gets worse the longer that you wait to have it treated. It is super painful, so you would know if this happened to you. At least, you would know something was very wrong.

People who wait too long to have this treated run the risk of wearing a colostomy bag for the rest of their lives.

By oscar23 — On Jun 21, 2011

There are some hernias that are actually quite visible. My mother has a lot of difficulty with hernias after a batched surgery over a decade ago where all of her stomach muscles were replaced with some sort of mesh.

Now the mesh and the sutures that hold it together keep rotting and fraying, and she gets hernias. You can actually see the huge bulges, even underneath her clothes.

She can’t even lift over five pounds because it could strain the mesh, and cause yet more hernias.

This puts a huge damper on her day to day life.

She can’t go to the grocery store alone because so many things are too heavy. She certainly can’t unload the buggy on her own! Aside from this, she can’t take laundry from room to room unless she takes several trips. She can’t even pick up her grandbabies – we put them in her lap.

I haven’t kept a steady count, but I would be willing to bet that she has had upwards of ten hernia surgeries over the last decade, and is scheduled to have two more this week.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
Learn more
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