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Hernias are common and can affect people of all ages. The most frequent are inguinal hernias, in the groin area, which mostly afflict men, followed by umbilical and, finally, incisional hernias which appear around scars from abdominal surgery. Other hernias include crural, or femoral, near the thighs, just below the groin; epigastric, between the belly button and the thorax, and herniated disks, on the spine.

Hernias can be caused by birth defects or by metabolic changes to tissue, a combination of both, or faulty scarring of previous abdominal wounds or surgery.

It is yet to be determined if there is a genetic predisposition to hernias, although it appears that might be the case, but it is important to note that, especially in their early stages, hernias can be painless.

Risk factors

Although there is always a risk, the probability of developing a hernia can be reduced by avoiding certain habits that weaken the tissue, such as smoking or a poor diet. Other risk factors include pregnancy, obstipation, chronic coughing, and excessive strain.

Treatment and surgery

In most cases the hernia is treated through classic surgery or laparoscopy to avoid complications, the latter being less invasive. Untreated hernias can cause severe problems, such as strangulation, which occurs when the intestine is incarcerated and quickly becomes gangrenous. This requires emergency surgery and poses a serious threat to life.

The operation entails a small incision through which the salient portion of the organism is put back into place. Although in some cases the patient’s own tissue can be used to fix the intestine, in most situations a mesh (prosthetic) is recommended. Exceptions include hernias with less than two centimetres of diameter, and hernias that affect children or athletes. In the vast majority of cases, the mesh is made of polypropylene, a synthetic product that is perfectly tolerated by the organism. There are, however, rare cases of rejection.

Non-mesh open surgery is a simple procedure which forgoes the use of a prosthetic and can be performed under local anaesthetic. Post-operatory pain levels are low.
Open mesh surgery, on the other and, requires the insertion of a mesh and can also be performed under local anaesthetic. In these cases post-operatory pain levels can be slightly higher.

Another alternative is laparoscopy surgery, which requires general anaesthetic and always implies the placing of a mesh. It does allow for a swifter and less painful recovery, though.

At Clínica Cirúrgica de Carcavelos the best treatment for you will be determined by our specialists, depending on your physical examination and, if necessary, imaging exams.


  • Dr. Miguel Pinto - Clínica Cirúrgica de Carcavelos;

  • Dr. Luís Pimentel Fontes - Clínica Cirúrgica de Carcavelos; 

  • Dr. António Freitas - Clínica Cirúrgica de Carcavelos, Clínica de Cascais e Clínica de Miraflores;

  • Dr. Fernando Cássio - Clínica Cirúrgica de Carcavelos e Clínica de Miraflores;

  • Dra. Teresa Santos - Clínica Cirúrgica de Carcavelos; 

  • Dr. Ricardo Souto - Clínica Cirúrgica de Carcavelos. 

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