Purpose of Hernia Surgery

Hernia surgery—known clinically as herniorrhaphy—is a common medical procedure that corrects hernia, which is a defect of the abdominal muscles. In these cases, internal organs, usually the intestines or other tissues such as fat, push out through the muscular wall. This causes a bulge, often found around the groin or navel. While some cases aren’t severe and are asymptomatic, surgery is often required to correct this issue.

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Doctor making a suture in operation room

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There are a couple of specific approaches, but the aim of such treatment is two-fold—to move the out-of-place material back into position and to repair the muscle wall that was breached.

Diagnosis Related to Hernia Surgery

There are several types of hernia, but the condition most commonly affects abdominal muscles. It arises as a bulge under the skin in or around the groin or navel. A progressive disorder that won’t resolve on its own, hernia can lead to symptoms such as pain and discomfort, though some arise as painless lumps.

Hernia surgery, in turn, corrects the problem by repositioning What are the signs that hernia surgery should be considered? Here’s a quick breakdown:

  • Severe discomfort: One of the most important factors considered is the level of pain and discomfort felt by the person, especially when these are starting to impact quality of life.
  • Growth in hernia: As noted, this issue does not resolve on its own. In both symptomatic and asymptomatic cases, growth in the hernia and the bulge it causes can be a cause for opting for surgery.
  • Risks: One of the few truly dangerous risks of hernia is when the bowel gets trapped in the portion of the intestines that have protruded. This is considered a medical emergency and requires immediate attention.

Aside from surgery, the only option for patients is essentially waiting and seeing how the condition progresses. As noted above, not all hernia cases are symptomatic, so the choice ends up being between you and your healthcare provider. Notably, these treatments are usually covered by insurance if they are deemed a medical necessity; as such, if you’re thinking about it, be sure to contact your provider.

Tests and Labs

Essential to the success of hernia surgery is proper testing and evaluation; the healthcare provider needs to know everything from your health history and status to the severity of your condition. As such, there are a number of examinations you’ll need to go undergo prior to surgery.

Medical History

Your healthcare provider will need to evaluate your medical history. In particular, they screen for whether you’ve had previous or other types of hernias, as well as other types of abdominal surgery. Other risk factors are a history of heavy lifting (usually for work), weight gain in the abdomen, and conditions that cause chronic cough.

During pregnancy, some women develop hernia due to the stretching of muscles as the baby comes to term. That said, some types of hernia—especially inguinal hernia, which affects the groin—are more prevalent in men. 

Physical Examination

When men have physicals, the healthcare provider will often perform a test for hernia associated with the groin. They’ll palpate (feel around) the groin and testicles while you cough to make sure the abdominal musculature is intact. If you’ve come into a healthcare provider specifically for hernia, physical examination is also the first line of diagnosis.


Though not often necessary, healthcare providers may call for imaging of the hernia. This is done using either abdominal ultrasound, which uses specialized sound waves to create an accurate picture of this part of the body.

In addition, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which employs magnetic fields and radio waves, or computerized tomography (CT) scan, a form of imaging that creates multiple, overlapping X-ray images, may be indicated in certain cases.

A Word From Verywell

For as uncomfortable and painful as hernia can be, it’s important to note that the condition is quite common, and hernia surgery is highly successful and well-tolerated. Finding the right specialist, one with whom you’re comfortable talking, and whom you trust, is essential in the process, so make sure you learn as much as you can about healthcare providers you’re considering.

That said, perhaps the most important factor in terms of ensuring the best possible outcome is you. By listening carefully to healthcare provider's orders, being responsive, and being open about how you’re feeling, you’ll do your part to ensure treatment success. 

3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Cleveland Clinic. Surgery for hernia repair: treatment, types, recovery. 2018. 

  2. Harvard Health. Hernia repair. 2018. 

  3. LeBlanc K, LeBlanc L, LeBlanc K. Inguinal hernias: diagnosis and managementAm Fam Physician. 2013;87(12):844-848.

By Mark Gurarie
Mark Gurarie is a freelance writer, editor, and adjunct lecturer of writing composition at George Washington University.