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 in this area?


Diagnosing a hernia:
Hernias are generally pretty straightforward to diagnose. Your hernia surgeon will review your symptoms and make a diagnosis based on a physical exam. Depending on the type of hernia he or she suspects, the surgeon may order other diagnostic tests.

Abdominal wall hernia
An abdominal wall hernia is generally visible or can be felt by your surgeon. During a physical exam, your doctor will feel your groin area and testicles and ask you to cough. Coughing may make the hernia more prominent.

Sometimes a hernia cannot be diagnosed through a physical exam alone, and other diagnostic tests are needed. Some examples of these include:

Ultrasound. An ultrasound uses sound waves to generate images of your pelvic area and abdomen. In women, ultrasounds can help your doctor rule out other causes of pain, such as ovarian cysts or fibroids. In men, an ultrasound can help diagnose inguinal or scrotal hernias.
CT scan (computer tomography). A CT scan uses X-ray technology to generate images of the abdominal area and organs. Typically, a CT scan is ordered to rule out other potential causes of abdominal pain and swelling.
MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). An MRI uses radio waves and a magnetic field to generate images of your organs and abdomen area. Your doctor may order an MRI if you have pain that is getting worse with exercise. Because exercise can cause a hernia without a bulge, an MRI can reveal tears in the abdomen.
In rare instances, a hernia can create other complications, such as becoming trapped within the abdominal wall and cutting the blood supply cut off. If your doctor suspects this has occurred in your case, he or she may order other imaging tests or blood tests to determine if you have any signs of infection.

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