Spigelian hernia : A guide to Hernias

A spigelian hernia protrudes through a weakness between the muscle fibres of the abdominal wall. This protrusion may contain a section of the intestines but in other cases it takes the form of an empty sac. This often forms on the right hand side of the abdomen.

This means no obvious swelling or lump which can make it almost impossible to detect.

As a result of this many people with this type of hernia do not realise that they actually developed a hernia which means that it remains undetected for a long period of time.

This is a very rare type of hernia which occurs in both men and women alike. It often develops later on in life when the abdominal muscles are not as strong as they were in one’s youth.

The causes of a spigelian hernia

This hernia occurs from the same causes of other types of hernias which include:

  • Sport (excessive twisting or turning)
  • Chronic coughing e.g. from smoking
  • Overweight or obese
  • Straining during urination or defecation
  • Lifting heavy objects
  • Abdominal injury

A spigelian hernia develops between the muscles of the abdominal wall rather than pushing through layers of fat which may cause it to be mistaken for another type of abdominal complaint.

Symptoms of a spigelian hernia

There are only a few indications that someone has developed a spigelian hernia which are:

  • Poor bowel function or constipation
  • Dull ache
  • Recurring pain especially on bending or stretching

We have mentioned that this type of hernia is very small and difficult to spot but it is noticeable in someone with low body fat levels. In this case it will appear as a small swelling.

If you suspect that you may have developed a spigelian hernia then book an appointment with your GP. If you have little body fat then your GP will be able to see where this hernia has occurred and may touch it to make certain.

Treatment for this is surgery - either open surgery using a special mesh to repair the area or possibly keyhole surgery.

Can it be left untreated?

The danger with leaving an untreated spigelian hernia is that the weakness in the abdominal wall may increase in size which then becomes increasingly uncomfortable.

As a result of this, this hernia cannot be pushed back into place which then causes damage to the colon or the bowel. If these become strangulated or obstructed by a blocked blood supply then they will deteriorate and eventually die.

Treating an spigelian hernia

This involves a surgical procedure under a local or general anaesthetic in which the hernia is fixed and the abdominal wall strengthened with surgical mesh.

Mesh repair surgery is covered in greater detail in our treatment for hernias section.

Other types of hernia include:

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