What exactly is a hernia?

A fascial tear. All hernias are caused by a disruption in the fascia of the abdominal wall. Fascia is a strong sheet of connective tissue that extends from the top of you abdomen (where it meets your chest) down past your groin. The fascia is the strength layer of your abdominal wall. It is responsible for keeping your abdominal contents in your abdomen. A hernia is a hole in your fascia.
See below. A hernia is most commonly a weakness of the body fibers in the abdominal wall. Most common sites for hernias are groin and umbilical region. There is a weakness in the abdominal wall fibers, resulting in some of the internal body tissue or intestines to protrude through the weakness. Groin hernias more common in men, umbilical in both men & women.

Related Questions

What exactly is an inguinal hernia repair?

"Fix a Flat" An inguinal hernia is a hole in the abdominal wall thru which the inner lining stretches out, creating a sac. In kids, all that's needed is removal of the sac. In adult (men), the current standard is to close the hole with mesh, either from the outside-in (open, or traditional repair) or the inside-out (laparoscopic). Either way, it is out-patient surgery with a 3-6 week recovery 2 full activities. Read more...
Closing the hole. An inguinal hernia is a hole in the abdominal wall in one or more of three locations in the groin. When the hole permits transit of intra-abdominal contents, and requires repair, most techniques occlude the hole with some type of mesh using either the most common open, or less common laparoscopic technique. Read more...

How do I know exactly what is a hiatal hernia?

Hiatal hernia. Is herniation, or protrusion, of a portion of stomach (which is normally in the abdomen) into the chest through the esophageal hiatus, thus "hiatal" hernia. There are different types though and some require urgent surgery, although most are of the "sliding" type that is usually harmless. It also depends on the extent of the stomach herniation and other organ involvement. Read more...