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A hernia is the protrusion of an organ, usually through the structure or muscle that contains it. The condition most often occurs in the abdominal wall when the intestine passes through a weak spot in the wall. The most common abdominal wall hernia is the inguinal hernia.

Inguinal hernias occur in the inner inguinal region, when the intestine protrudes through either of two passages in the lower abdominal wall called the inguinal canals.   Femoral hernias in the upper thigh/outer groin area occur in deeper passages called the femoral canals. They are much less common than inguinal hernias and are much more likely in women than men. They also carry a higher risk of complications if they are not repaired.   Ventral hernias occur through an opening in the abdominal muscles. There are three types of ventral hernias:  
  • Epigastric hernias occur above the navel.
  • Incisional hernias are caused by weakening of the abdominal muscle caused by an incision made during a previous abdominal surgery.
  • Umbilical hernias near the navel are most common in newborns, especially premature ones. These hernias usually close on their own when the child is 4 years old. Umbilical hernias can be more problematic when they occur in adults.
A gastric hernia occurs when the upper part of the stomach bulges into the chest through a small opening in the diaphragm (hiatus). The cavity allows the esophagus, which carries food from the mouth to the stomach, to pass through the diaphragm.