Hernias occur when contents that are normally contained inside the abdominal cavity protrude out of the abdomen through a weakness in the abdominal wall. The hernias can contain fat or even a segment of intestine. Hernias can occur in the groin (protruding into the scrotum, the most common type), in the uppermost segment of the leg (a femoral hernia
), or higher up in the abdomen (called a ventral hernia). Regardless of what is actually protruding into the hernia, it may be uncomfortable and cause pain. The dangerous aspect of the hernia is that at some point it may become incarcerated (unable to be pushed back into the abdomen) and later strangulated (where the blood supply to the contents of the hernia is compromised). Strangulation of the hernia, if severe enough, can lead to tissue death and infection. If a loop of intestine is contained within the hernia, then a bowel obstruction is another potential complication. The best advice would be for your brother to seek consultation with a general surgeon
so that they can discuss these risks, as well as the benefits of surgical correction. Hernia repairs are among the most common surgical procedures conducted in this country and are generally done as an outpatient.