Hernias may occur whenever abdominal muscles develop a weak spot or tear. These muscles are normally responsible for holding in organs and surrounding tissues, but when a hernia occurs, organs such as the intestines can push the abdominal lining through the point of weakness, forming a balloon-like sac. This is usually seen as a bulge under the skin when the patient is standing.
Hernias can be aggravated by a chronic cough, constipation, or heavy lifting, and may cause pain. They usually get worse over time. Hernias occur in both males and females, but are much more common in men. Roughly 5% of men will develop a hernia at some point in their lives.
90% of hernias occur in the groin area. These are known as inguinal or femoral hernias. Other types of hernia are umbilical (occurring at the belly button), epigastric (occurring in the midline between the chest bone and the umbilicus), and incisional (occurring at the site of a previous operation).
Hernias usually do not go away on their own, and require surgical repair. There are two main surgical techniques Mr Haddawi uses to repair hernias; these are open (traditional) surgery, and laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery.