Glossary

Abdomen -  the space or cavity in which contains your intestines, stomach liver,etc.  It is like a large room with four walls, a ceiling and a floor.  When you are standing the front walli s called the abdominal wall.  It stops your guts falling on the floor.

Abdominal wall - The muscles that form the front wall of your abdominal cavity.   A hole in your abdominal wall is a hernia. 

Anesthesia: Loss of feeling.

A general anesthetic puts the person to sleep.

A local anesthetic causes loss of feeling in only in one part of the body, such as a tooth or an area of skin or deeper tissue..  It does not affect consciousness.  Don’t  confuse with regional anesthesia, like epidural anaesthesiaa.

Regional anesthesia numbs a larger part of the body such as a leg or arm, also without affecting consciousness.  Epidural and spinal

Bilateral hernia - two groin hernias existing at the same time, one on each side.

Bioabsorbable - A material that is designed to be broken down and absorbed by the body within a given period of time.

Biomaterial - Material that can be used in the human body, often as part of a medical device.

Bowel: Another name for the intestine, or guts. The small bowel and the large bowel are the small intestine and large intestine, respectively.

Congenital - A condition that is present at birth. Not to be confused with inherited.

Direct inguinal hernia – Direct and indirect are probably not helpful nowadays, except possibly to trainee surgeons. They are anatomical terms describing which side of a blood vessel in the inguinal canal the hernia comes out.  Whichever ‘type’, the method of repair is the same.

Diaphragm A large flat sheet of muscle that separates your chest (which contains lungs and heart) from your abdomen or abdominal cavity, which contains your guts.  There are holes in the diaphragm to allow blood vessels and the gullet to pass through from one to the other.

Epigastric hernia - A hernia that occurs at the midline of the abdomen, between the  lower end of sternum (breastbone )and the umbilicus (navel).

Femoral canal – A narrow canal that lies next to the large femoral blood vessels that pass from the abdomen into the leg, at the level of the groin skin crease.

Femoral hernia - A hernia through the femoral canal. Because the canal is narrow and three of its side are rigid, strangulation is relatively common.  See ‘strangulated hernia’

Groin:  the area where the upper thigh meets the trunk or torso. It is marked by a skin crease at the top of the thigh.

Hernia - A weakness or hole in the wall of a  cavity containing an organ, with the resulting protrusion of that organ or part of the organ though it.

Hiatus hernia: (A ‘hiatus’ is an opening)  A hiatus hernia is when the stomach ‘herniates’ through an opening in the diaphragm.  The opening is to allow the oesophagus (gullet or swallowing tube) to get from your mouth to stomach.  Sometimes the opening enlarges and the stomach passes upwards, through this opening or hiatus into the chest.

Incarcerated – an incarcerated hernia is one where the hernia contents (usually intestine) have come through the hernia defect and cannot go back or reduce.  They are irreducible.

Inherited.  Passed down in your genes, from one (or both) of your parents, grandparents etc.

Irreducible hernia – see incarcerated

Incisional hernia - A hernia that occurs at the site of a previous surgical incision.

Indirect inguinal hernia - The most common type of inguinal hernia, occurring at the opening of the inguinal canal in the groin area.

Inguinal canal - A naturally occurring "tunnel" in the groin area, through which hernias may form.

Inguinal hernia - A hernia through the inguinal canal.

Laparoscopic surgery – also known as keyhole surgery.  Uses an instrument called a laparoscope to look inside the abdominal cavity. Small incisions are made in the skin and through the abdominal wall.  Additional instruments are inserted to do whatever has to be done.  It is all watched on a video monitor / TV screen.

Recurrent hernia - A hernia that occurs at the same location as a previous hernia.

Reducible hernia - A hernia in which the hernia contents go back into the abdomen when one lies down or pushes them back.

Strangulation - A situation in which a loop of intestine has become trapped in the hernia, constricted at the neck or entrance to the hernia, and hence loses its blood supply.  If not dealt with the trapped intestine will lose its blood supply and die, leading to gangrene.

Umbilical hernia - A hernia that occurs through the umbilicus itself.

Ventral hernia - Hernia that occurs in the abdominal wall, but not the groin area.  A very ambiguous and unhelpful term.  Don’t use it.