Common Types of Hernias


A hernia is a bulge caused by tissue pushing through the wall of muscle that's holding it in. Most hernias are in the belly and groin areas. Common types of hernias include inguinal, femoral, umbilical, incisional, epigastric, and hiatal.

Inguinal hernia

An inguinal hernia (say "IN-gwuh-nul HER-nee-uh") happens when tissue bulges through a weak spot in your groin area. When you have an inguinal hernia, you may see or feel a tender bulge in the groin or scrotum. You may also feel pain, pressure or burning, or a feeling that something has "given way."

Hernias don't heal on their own. Over time, hernias tend to increase in size as the abdominal muscle wall becomes weaker and more tissue bulges through.

Femoral hernia

A femoral hernia (say "FEH-muh-rull HER-nee-uh") is a problem that occurs when tissue in the abdomen bulges through a weak part in the lower belly into the upper thigh, just below the groin crease. This occurs more often in women than in men.

Umbilical hernia

An umbilical hernia is a bulge near the belly button, or navel. Intestines or other tissues may bulge through an opening or a weak spot in the stomach muscles. The hernia has a sac that may hold some intestine, fat, or fluid. Many umbilical hernias are caused by pressure near the belly button. Pressure may come from increased weight, repeated straining, or pregnancy.

A very small hernia may not cause problems. But your doctor may recommend repairing the muscle. This helps you avoid the risk that the hernia might trap some of the tissues or intestine. This could be an emergency.

Incisional hernia

An incisional hernia is a problem that occurs when a bulge of tissue pushes through the wall of muscle that's holding it in. It happens after surgery in the belly, in the area of the incision. It can happen months or even years after surgery.

This type of hernia can occur in people who:

  • Are very overweight.
  • Are older.
  • Used steroid medicines.
  • Smoke.
  • Had a wound infection after surgery or had more than one surgery using the same incision.

Epigastric hernia

An epigastric hernia (say "eh-pih-GAS-trik HER-nee-uh") is a problem that occurs when a bulge of tissue pushes through a weak part of the belly wall. It happens between the breastbone and the belly button, or navel.

Epigastric hernias often have no symptoms. But they can cause pain in the upper belly. Most of the time, these hernias are small. You can have more than one at a time.

Hiatal hernia

A hiatal hernia (say "hi-AY-tul HER-nee-uh") happens when part of your stomach bulges up through the diaphragm and into your chest. The diaphragm is a sheet of muscle that separates your belly (abdomen) from your chest.

The hernia bulges through the diaphragm at a place called the hiatus. This is the opening in the diaphragm that the esophagus passes through. The esophagus is the tube that connects the throat to the stomach.

There are three main types of hiatal hernia: sliding, paraesophageal, and mixed. Most people who have a hiatal hernia have a sliding hiatal hernia.


Current as of: October 6, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kenneth Bark MD - General Surgery, Colon and Rectal Surgery

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