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Ventral Hernia: Risk Factors, Causes and Symptoms

Ventral Hernia: Risk Factors, Causes and Symptoms

A ventral hernia occurs when there is a protrusion of the intestine or other tissues through a weakness in the abdominal wall. It can appear on the abdominal wall at any location.

The three specific ventral hernias are incisional, umbilical (belly button), and epigastric (stomach) hernia. Incisional hernias are formed at the healed site of past surgical incisions. In this type of hernia, the abdominal cavity contents push through because the abdominal wall layers have become weak or thin.

In an umbilical hernia, part of the intestine bulges through the opening in the abdominal muscles not far away from the navel. An epigastric hernia occurs when a lump in the midline between the sternum (breastbone) and belly button.

The causes of a ventral hernia can be either acquired or congenital. The majority of hernias that doctors see and treat are acquired.

Nevertheless, some people have ventral hernias right from birth for a long time before finally being repaired. The acquired ventral hernia can be caused due to repetitive stress on naturally weak points of the abdominal wall, trauma, and previous surgery causing an incisional hernia. Read on to know ventral hernia’s risk factors, causes, and symptoms.

Risk factors

Some people are born with congenital anomalies; this will cause their abdominal wall to be unusually thin. They have a high risk of having this condition. Other risk factors for developing a ventral hernia are;

  1. History of abdominal surgeries
  2. obesity
  3. Pregnancy
  4. Injuries to your bowel
  5. Lifting or pushing heavy objects frequently
  6. Family history of hernia
  7. History of previous hernia


The causes of ventral hernia are contingent upon its location and the person’s medical history, personal anatomy, and health. The weakness or thinness in the abdominal wall via which the intestine bulges out may be part of the body’s natural formulation, and it may result from;

  1. Heavy lifting
  2. Prior surgery
  3. Injury or obesity
  4. Chronic coughing, severe or chronic vomiting
  5. Diabetes or other diseases
  6. Pregnancy


Often, most people do not feel any discomfort in the early stages of ventral hernia formation. However, the usual symptom that is easily detected is visible protrusion under the skin in the abdomen or an area that is tender to touch. The protrusion may become flattened when pushing against it or when lying down. An increasing level of pain can be caused by a ventral hernia when the person;

  1. Stand or sits for an extended period
  2. Lifts heavy objects
  3. Strains to have a bowel movement

Severe abdominal pain may happen if part of the intestine protrudes through the abdominal wall and gets trapped in the opening. This condition is a medical emergency with immediate care because the trapped portion of the intestine becomes strangulated, then loses its blood supply and dies.

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