What is a Hernia?

Whether you are facing a simple or complex hernia challenge, trust Metro Atlanta’s proven leader in cutting-edge treatments. At GSC’s Advanced Hernia Center, our experienced hernia surgeons are skilled in the very latest technologies and procedures and will treat all patients with the same detailed and compassionate care that your physician would provide.

A hernia is a hole in the abdominal fascia, the strong connective tissue that your muscles sit on. Hernias develop in areas of weakness in the abdominal fascia.

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How Serious are Hernias?

Often, a part of the intestine pushes through this tear in the abdominal wall, and a soft bulge is seen underneath the skin where the hernia has occurred. The risk is that this bowel can get stuck in the hernia, leading to an incarcerated hernia. This can cause the blood supply to be cut off and the hernia can quickly, within the space of 6 hours, go from an incarcerated hernia to a strangulated hernia. This strangulation of the blood supply leads to necrosis (death) of this piece of bowel and spillage of the bowel contents, which can lead to sepsis and even death. This is why hernias are usually surgically repaired on an elective basis to avoid these complications.

A small hernia is amenable to a minimally invasive outpatient surgical repair. Large hernia defects may require a full abdominal wall reconstruction to give you back a functional abdominal wall. Our expertise in understanding, evaluating, and surgically treating complex conditions means you’re in the most experienced hands.

What Types of Hernias Exist?

Hernias come in different shapes and sizes and are located in many different parts of the abdominal wall.


Inguinal Hernia

This is the most common type of hernia in both men and women. However, it is three times more likely to occur in men. In males, it happens when an opening in the abdominal wall from the passage of the testicle into the scrotum does not close normally before birth, or reopens later in life. In women, this canal contains the round ligament (a suspensory ligament for the uterus) and is much smaller but still exists and can reopen later in life.

Femoral Hernia

Appears as a bulge near the groin or thigh. This type of hernia is not common, usually occurs in elderly thin females. It is due to an enlargement of the small hole in the abdominal fascia needed for the major blood vessels of your leg. Less than 5% of all hernias are femoral hernias.


Incisional Hernia

Usually occurs months, or years, after surgery in the area overlying the scar. The size of this type of hernia depends on the initial surgery.


Epigastric Hernia

Normally present in the middle of the belly between the breastbone and the belly button. In the mid-line, the fascia is not covered with muscle and is a natural area of weakness. Fat or intestine can push through a weak spot in the abdominal wall.

Hiatal Hernia

Is the most common form of a diaphragm hernia. The diaphragm is a large flat muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen. A normal communication between the chest and the abdomen is present to allow the esophagus to enter into the abdomen and connect to the stomach. Over time, this area can stretch and part of the stomach can bulge up through the diaphragm and into the chest. Many people don’t feel symptoms; however, heartburn can be a common symptom.

Hiatal Hernia

Spigelian Hernia

A hernia is located at the lateral edge of the rectus muscle (6-pack muscle). The lateral edge of the rectus muscle is called the semilunar line. Where the semilunar line intersects with the arcuate line is where Spigelian hernias occur. The arcuate line is usually about 2cm below the belly button and runs transversely. It represents where the posterior rectus fascia ends. This is an area of weakness as it is a location where the fascia meets and is not covered by muscle. Spigelian hernias are rare hernias that are sometimes harder to diagnose with a physical exam alone as they don’t always give a normal bulge as you get with most hernias.

Lumbar Hernias

Posterior abdominal wall hernias that present with bulge laterally. These hernias are the result of trauma, prior surgery, or sometimes congenital.

Obturator Hernia

Is a rare hernia of the pelvic floor. Abdominal contents herniate into the obturator canal. These types of hernias can be difficult to diagnose on physical exam and require a high degree of suspicion on the part of the clinician. They often require a CT scan of the pelvis to correctly diagnose.

Innovative Procedures for the Best Outcomes

At our Advanced Hernia Center, we practice the latest, most advanced procedures for the repair of simple and complex hernias.

For example, we specialize in complex abdominal wall reconstructive techniques to restore abdominal function caused by recurring hernias. These techniques are beneficial when a more involved approach may be needed due to scar tissue or an abdominal wall catastrophe.

We offer state-of-the-art approaches to help provide patients and their physicians with proven solutions and peace of mind.