Why Indians are more prone to hernia?

Dr Anirudh Vij, Senior Laparoscopic and Bariatric surgeon

New Delhi (India), March 21: Hernia is a disease condition in which particular organ (usually fat or intestine) moves from its pre-defined location in the body to another site. It most commonly presents as an abnormal swelling in the abdomen or groin area which may be associated with dragging pain. The swelling usually increases on coughing or straining and disappears on lying down. This feature is characteristic of hernia which differentiates it from other swellings which are constant. 

Hernia can be congenital (present from birth) or acquired (present later in life). Congenital hernia is due to persistence of embryonic tracts which may allow movement of omentum (abdominal fat) or intestine towards the scrotum. They are more commonly seen in males and present as swelling in the groin or scrotum. Acquired hernia may be a result of muscle weakness, increased abdominal pressure or previous surgery. 

A focused study screened 5000 people with complaints of abdominal and groin swellings in Delhi, Noida, Gurgaon and Ghaziabad. Of these, around 15% were found to be suffering from hernia which would require surgical repair. Dr Anirudh Vij, Senior Laparoscopic and Bariatric surgeon based in New Delhi, who conducted the study says “Most of the participants of this study had symptoms related to hernia ranging from few months to many years. While some had previous surgery leading to muscle weakness, others developed hernia due to factors which increased intra abdominal pressure.”

Indian population is particularly prone to hernia because of various reasons. Indians have genetically lesser muscle mass compared to Caucasians “which makes them prone to muscle weakness” says Dr Anirudh Vij. Low birth weight commonly seen in Indian babies is a risk factor for congenital hernia. The low percentage of muscle and higher visceral fat (fat stored in the abdomen) particularly predisposes to abdominal hernia. Also, the growing incidence of obesity and lack of physical activity increases chances of developing hernia in later life. 

Cigarette smoking which is common amongst Indians leads to muscle weakness by altering collagen metabolism. It also causes chronic cough and repeated strain on abdominal muscles which predisposes to hernia formation. 

“Western diet, junk foods and sedentary lifestyle give rise to chronic constipation and straining at stools which again increases the intra abdominal pressure giving rise to hernia” noted Dr Anirudh Vij in his study. 

Many Indians have undergone poorly performed abdominal operations in rural setups which later predispose to incisional hernias. 

Prevention of hernia can be by regular physical activity, maintaining healthy weight, avoiding smoking and treatment of chronic cough and constipation.

Treatment of hernia is by surgery to repair the gap in the muscles and strengthening the tissues by placement of a mesh. This can be performed by the laparoscopic approach which is a safe procedure with few complications and a rapid recovery. “We routinely perform such surgeries for simple and complex hernias at our centre Dr Sunderlal Memorial Hospital with excellent results” commented Dr Vij.

For more information visit: https://laparoscopysurgerydelhi.com/ 

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