Anatomically our back is our ‘dorsum’ (dorsal fin of a shark) and our front is the ‘ventrum’. So epigastric hernias and incisional hernias, which occur on our front – our abdominal wall – are sometimes called ventral hernias.
It can get more confusing when some doctors refer to diastasis or divarication, as ventral hernias.
Best not to use the term ‘ventral hernia’
Recurrent hernias and incisional hernias
If a previous hernia repair opens up again (recurs) it is called a recurrent hernia. Hernias that occur through a previously made incision – made for an internal operation – are called incisional hernias.
Three ‘hernias’ that aren’t hernias
2 Hiatus hernia
A hiatus hernia is where the stomach – (the hollow organ into which you swallow your food) pops up through a hole (hiatus = hole in Greek) into the chest cavity.
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.