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Man wearing grey shirt holding his abdomen.


​Hernias occur when an organ pushes through an opening in the muscle or tissue that holds it in place. Hernias can appear in the upper thigh, belly button, and groin areas, but they are most commonly found in the abdomen. Most hernias are not life threatening but do require treatment to prevent potentially serious complications. The most common symptom of a hernia is a bulge or lump, often accompanied by pain or discomfort when bending over, coughing or lifting; weakness, pressure, or a heavy feeling in the abdomen; and a burning, aching sensation around the bulging area. Hiatal hernias can also cause acid reflux, chest pain, or difficulty swallowing.

common types of hernia

  • Inguinal hernias make up about 70% of all hernias. These hernias occur when the intestines push through a weak spot or tear in the lower abdominal wall.
  • ​Hiatal hernia occurs when part of your stomach protrudes through the diaphragm into your chest. Hiatal hernias almost always cause heartburn, which is when the stomach contents leak backward into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation. This type of hernia is most common in patients over 50 years old.
  • Umbilical hernias occur when a baby’s intestines bulge through their abdominal wall near their belly button. This is the only hernia that can go away without treatment, but children may require surgery to correct an umbilical hernia if it does not resolve by their 1st birthday. This hernia would be treated by a pediatric surgeon.
  • Incisional hernias can occur after abdominal surgery when the intestines push through the incision scar or the weakened surrounding tissue.

Risk factors

Risk factors for hernia include:

  • Muscle weakness or strain
  • Personal history or family history of hernias
  • Being overweight
  • Chronic cough
  • Chronic constipation
  • Damage from injury or surgery
  • Smoking (which can cause coughing fits)

diagnosis, treatment and technologies


Hernias can be diagnosed through physical examination, barium X-ray or endoscopy. Umbilical hernias in children are often diagnosed using an ultrasound, an exam that uses high frequency sound waves to create an image of the structures of the body.

lifestyle adjustments and medications

The size of the hernia and severity of symptoms determine the course of treatment. Doctors may choose to monitor a hernia for possible complications, or they may suggest certain lifestyle changes to treat hiatal hernias. Avoiding heavy meals and maintaining a healthy weight can help some patients avoid surgical intervention. Over-the-counter and prescription medications that reduce stomach acid can also help relieve the symptoms of hiatal hernia.

Interventional and surgical treatments

If the hernia does not respond to lifestyle changes or is growing larger and causing pain, the doctor may repair a hernia by sewing the hole in the abdominal wall closed and patching it with surgical mesh. This surgery can be either laparoscopic or open. Laparoscopic surgery substantially lessens the recovery time.

Outpatient Option for Hernia Patients

CMC’s Surgical Care Group (SCG) partners with Bedford Ambulatory Surgery Center (BASC) in the development of a regional hernia center in Manchester that offers comprehensive services including outpatient surgery. The center provides advanced services for management of complex hernias and provides a low cost alternative for patients who qualify for outpatient surgery. These advanced services will incorporate the latest techniques in complex hernia repair, including open and laparoscopic techniques, mesh repair and component separation. Complex surgery will be performed at CMC while outpatients may have surgery at either BASC or CMC.
Surgical Care Group’s Dr. Robert Catania, Dr. Richard Tomolonis and Dr. Andrew Wu are all board certified surgeons who have a combined 30 years of surgical experience in the management of all types of hernias, from outpatient inguinal and umbilical hernias to complex incisional and other difficult hernias. They will assess patients to determine the most appropriate approach for their hernia as well as the most appropriate setting, either at CMC or the BASC

For an evaluation, have your primary care physician place a referral, or simply contact the SCG where patients will be evaluated to determine the most appropriate approach and setting for your hernia repair. 

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