I’ve always had a lot of respect for the Cleveland Clinic, a world-class research hospital located in Ohio. As a child, I remember my grandmother going there for cutting-edge care for Crohn’s disease.
Their digestive health team recently released an interesting guide to five common types of hernia. Overall, the hospital recommends that patients consider earlier surgical treatments for these hernias, rather than waiting. One of the risks of waiting too long is that the surgery can end up being an emergency procedure or less successful.
Five types of hernia
Generally speaking, a hernia is when a body part pushes through into an area where it shouldn’t be.
A hiatal hernia is a weakness in the diaphragm, which is located where the chest and abdomen meet. The esophagus passes through a hole in the diaphragm, called the hiatus, and joins the stomach. The stomach should always be located below the diaphragm. When there is a weakness or defect in the diaphragm at the hiatus, it allows the stomach to move up above the diaphragm, where it causes problems.
A hiatal hernia causes heartburn, difficulty swallowing, and coughing. This type of hernia isn’t noticeable from the outside and is usually diagnosed by an upper endoscopy (scope) or diagnostic radiology imaging, like an abdominal CT scan.
I have represented a lot of clients who had problems with hiatal hernia repairs. One lady immediately comes to mind. A general surgeon took her to the operating room to prepare a hiatal hernia. Before she was discharged from the hospital, a radiology study showed that part of her stomach had re-located above the diaphragm.
Having the stomach in the wrong place is a crystal-clear sign that the surgery was unsuccessful. The surgeon decided to discharge from the hospital anyway. During the month that the surgeon waited to return her to surgery, this poor lady developed a terrible, avoidable complication called gastric volvulus. Our surgical expert explained that it is like having your stomach turn like a phone cord. She understandably couldn’t hold any food down and had a long medical course to get back on track.
Fortunately, we were able to show that the surgeon was negligent and obtained a substantial recovery on her behalf.
I’ve also represented a lot of clients who endured negligent bariatric/weight-loss surgery. Almost every patient who has a bariatric procedure also has a hiatal hernia repair, whether they know it or not.
An incisional hernia is when part of the intestines or fatty tissue pushes through a weakness or opening in a surgical scar on the abdominal wall. People who are overweight, and active, or even just elderly, are the most at-risk for an incisional hernia.
A ventral hernia happens around the navel, or bellybutton. It occurs when fatty tissue pushes through a defect or weakness in the abdominal wall between the bellybutton and the breastbone. This category of hernia includes epigastric, umbilical, and incisional hernias.
Each time a person has a ventral hernia repair surgery, the risk for failure goes up because of scar tissue and adhesions. Based on my experience in representing patients in hernia repair malpractice lawsuits, I work with surgical experts who investigate whether the surgeon provided adequate post-operative follow-up care to look out for and treat complications.
I recently represented a patient who had a problem with recurrent ventral hernias. You'd think that the surgeons would keep a close eye on a patient with such a significant surgical history, but that wasn't the case. After the surgery at issue in the lawsuit, her surgical drains were producing much more fluid than expected. Two days after the surgery, both the general surgeon and plastic surgeon noticed green discharge from one of the drains. Yet, neither of them ordered an MRI to see what was wrong. She nearly died before she was returned to the operating room to repair her perforated colon.
My client was pleased that we successfully resolve her medical malpractice case.
The most common type of hernia is the inguinal hernia, which accounts for about 80% of all hernias. They’re more common in men than women and develop when fatty tissue pushes through the abdominal wall into the inguinal canal. Inguinal canal defects are present from birth and are so common that they merit a special part of physical exams for boys and men—“turn your head and cough.”
Finally, a femoral hernia is when part of the intestine or fatty tissue pokes through the area surrounding the femoral artery. These are often considered a medical emergency and most often occur in older women. Obesity and pregnancy are also known risk factors.
We are here to help
We are familiar with surgical and medical malpractice related to hernia surgeries.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured because of medical or hospital care, then the experienced medical malpractice attorneys at Painter Law Firm, in Houston, Texas, are here to help. Click here to send us a confidential email via our “Contact Us” form or call us at 281-580-8800.
All consultations are free, and, because we only represent clients on a contingency fee, you will owe us nothing unless we win your case. We handle cases in the Houston area and all over Texas. We are currently working on medical malpractice lawsuits in Houston, The Woodlands, Sugar Land, Conroe, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Bryan/College Station, and Waco.
Robert Painter is a medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm PLLC, in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits against hospitals, physicians, surgeons, anesthesiologists, and other healthcare providers. A member of the board of directors of the Houston Bar Association, he was honored, in 2018, by H Texas as one of Houston’s top lawyers. Also, in 2018, the Better Business Bureau recognized Painter Law Firm PLLC with its Award of Distinction.