What is a hernia?

   Hernia, or rupture, results from a break in cavity walls within the body. Many organs of the body, like the lungs, heart, or intestines, are inside hollow places called body cavities. Sometimes the wall of a cavity breaks, or ruptures, and part of the organ pushes through. Then the person has a hernia. When used alone, the word generally means an abdominal hernia. In this type, a loop of the bowel sticks out through the muscular wall of the abdomen. The hernia often occurs at a weak point of the muscular wall. It usually pushes out a part of the inner lining of the abdomen, the peritoneum, and forms a hernial sac. This sac may be felt or seen underneath the skin of the abdomen.
   The danger of abdominal hernia is that the abdominal muscles may contract, strangulating (choking off) the part of the bowel that protrudes. Doctors usually operate immediately on persons with this condition. Supports such as trusses may relieve abdominal hernia; by keeping die bowel inside the abdominal wall. Bu: the only cure for a hernia is an operation.
   In hernia cerebri, a portion of the brain protrudes through an opening in the skull. Hernia may also occur in various other internal organs, such as the bladder.
Hernia results from many causes. An abdominal hernia sometimes results from lifting a heavy object, or from a strain or other injury.