How do I know if I have a hernia?
Do you notice a bulge in your abdomen or groin that you think might be a hernia? Are you experiencing pain or any other symptoms in this area?
Diagnosing a hernia
Hernias are usually easy to diagnose by a doctor. We will discuss your symptoms in detail, review any testing you may have had, and will typically be able to make the diagnosis based on a physical exam. However, there are other medical problems that can sometimes mimic or be mistaken for a hernia, so if the diagnosis is at all in question, your surgeon may recommend diagnostic tests. Diagnostic tests are usually imaging tests, such as Sonography (Ultrasound) or Computerized Tomography (CT scan).
Physical exam: A surgeon can often see a hernia and/or feel one on exam.
CT scan (computer tomography). A CT scan uses x-rays to produce very detailed images of the abdominal and pelvic anatomy. It is also very good at diagnosing the defect or hole that is the root cause of the hernia. Sometimes it is very helpful to know the exact size of the defect and what is protruding (herniated) through it, Knowing the size of the hernia frequently can determine the surgical approach to repairing the defect (open, laparoscopic, or robotic and with or without mesh). CT is also very sensitive and can often pick up other pathology that is causing the patient's symptoms, or occasionally other pathology that is completely accidental to find and unrelated (vascular disease or tumors or cancers of the intestines, stomach, liver, kidneys, and other organs for example).
MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging). An MRI uses magnetic fields and water molecules in your body to produce images of your abdominal cavity and pelvis similar to CT scan. It does not use x-rays and is therefore safer for children and pregnant women. MRI is not as good at evaluating the abdominal cavity and abdominal contents, because it is very sensitive to motion artifact, but it is much better at fine definition of specific tissues and delineating one tissue plane or other tissues from one another. When a hernia cannot be convincingly determined by physical exam, an MRI is sometimes helpful at determining when a patient may have a torn muscle or tendon problem that is causing their symptoms, rather than a true hernia.
Ultrasound. A probe placed on your skin emits ultrasonic sound waves, like sonar on ships, and images are produced that can sometimes delineate a hernia from the surrounding tissues and organs. Ultrasound is routinely used to evaluate and provide images of babies in the womb of pregnant women. In the same fashion, it can sometimes identify other causes of pain, such as ovarian or uterine pathology in women, or inguinal or testicular pathology in men.
If you think you have a hernia or have been diagnosed with one by your doctor, please schedule an appointment with us at Advanced Hernia Specialists. We are experts in the field of hernia surgery, and we are committed to delivering excellent care and the best patient outcomes possible. We offer the most cost-effective options, as well as the most advanced laparoscopic, minimally invasive, and robotic surgical techniques for hernia repair.