Types of hernia


Classifying hernias

Usually hernias are described by where the hole is in the abdominal wall. So an inguinal hernia occurs in the inguinal or groin region. An umbilical hernia – at the umbilicus or navel, and an epigastric hernia occurs in the upper abdomen – known as the epigastrium.

Ventral hernias” – this term is used a lot in America.  Anatomically our front is the ‘ventrum’ and our back is our ‘dorsum’ (dorsal fin of a shark). So epigastric hernias, on the front of the abdomen, are also called ventral hernias. It can get a bit confusing when some doctors refer to diastasis or divarication, or incisional hernias as ventral hernias – and I will explain more later.

Recurrent hernias

And note – if a previous hernia repair opens up again it is called a recurrent hernia not an incisional hernia.


1) Epigastric
2) Diastasis (not a true hernia)
3) Supra-umbilical hernia
4) Umbilical hernia
5) Incisional hernia
6) Scar (previous inguinal hernia op)
7) Recurrent inguinal hernia
8) Spigelian hernia  (rare)
9) Inguinal hernia
10) Femoral hernia
11) Pubic bone
12) Inguinal ligament – groin skin crease

The commonest types of hernias are inguinal hernias – occurring in the groin, and incisional hernias – where the hernia occurs through a scar made for another abdominal operation.


Two confusing hernias :-


Hiatus hernia

1. A hiatus* hernia is where the stomach moves upwards, out of the abdomen,  through a normal hole in your diaphragm into the chest cavity.  The normal hole is where the oesophagus (gullet) passes from your mouth into your stomach.

* (hiatus = hole in Greek)

Slipped disc

2. Confusingly, (particularly in continental Europe) the word hernia is used to describe a slipped disc in the back. That’s because the word hernia really means something popping out of the space where it is supposed to be, into another area or space. So in the back, the inside of one of the cushions or discs that lie in between the individual vertebrae (bones of our spine) slips (or ‘herniates’) through its covering, and presses on a nerve. NOTHING at all to do with the hernias we are talking about.