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A hernia forms when a small section of the internal tissue from inside the abdominal cavity protrudes or 'sticks through' the muscle wall around the abdomen, where there is a weakness in those muscles or a small 'hole' in the muscle wall.

Different types of hernia can appear at different sites on the body. The most common hernia types are...

  • Inguinal hernia - these develop in the groin through a common weakness in the muscle wall, and are much more common in men than women; in men this type of hernia develops near the blood vessels that supply blood to the testicles; in women they develop near to the round ligament in the groin.
  • Umbilical hernia - the 'belly button' (umbilicus) is a natural point of weakness in the muscle wall and an umbilical hernia will sometimes develop at the base of the belly button.
  • Incisional hernia - this type of hernia can develop at the site of surgical incisions and particularly affects patients needing chemotherapy after surgery, patients who develop infection in wounds and patients who are obese, or have a suppressed immune system or are malnourished.