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What is a Hernia?

Updated: Dec 12, 2019

I'm sure everyone has heard the word hernia before, but how many of you know what it is? There are a few different types of hernias that will be outlined below, to give you a better idea of what to look out for.

Hernia means an abnormal exit of a tissue or organ through the tissue wall in which it normally resides. Hernia's can be big or small and have different locations that they are found. The umbilical hernia is what comes first to mind. This type of hernia is found at the umbilicus or "belly button" as some people refer to it. This is common in younger animals, but can occur in adults as well.

Common in cats after a road traffic accident is a diaphragmatic hernia. This is one that is associated with trauma and doesn't usually occur at other times (even though it is possible) This is where a hole is present in the diaphragm which then allows the contents of the abdomen to enter the chest cavity. This causes labored breathing as the lungs are condensed and the negative pressure that is normally present is the thorax is disrupted.

Another type of hernia is called inguinal hernia. This is when the abdominal contents come through the inguinal ring that is present in all animals. This usually occurs when the ring is too large, or occasionally can get pulled through with the testicles as they are descending. This type can happen in both male and female. The hernia is located between the two back legs.

There are multiple options to fix these hernias. It all depends on where the hernia is located and how much tissue is available to close the defect in the body wall. Care need to be taken that the organs within the hernia are not damaged. If they are strangulated, red, or inflamed then this is more of an emergency situation. There is surgical mesh available to close these defects similar to humans. This is used only if necessary as there is usually enough tissue to close the defect in the body wall.

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