1.1 A few statistics

Hernias are a widespread phenomenon. Accordingly, around 27 % of men and 3% of women will suffer from an inguinal hernia at some stage of their life. Based on estimates released by international hernia societies, some 20 million people worldwide underwent inguinal hernia surgery in 2007. In Germany around 275,000 inguinal hernia procedures and just under 100,000 abdominal wall hernia operations are carried out each year. Both children and adults of any gender or age can be affected by this condition.
In abdominal wall surgery there is a disease-induced gap in the abdominal wall through which the peritoneum, and possibly internal abdominal organs, can protrude. In inguinal hernias the opening is situated in the region of the inguinal canal, while in diaphragmatic hernias it is located within the diaphragm. Every type of hernia poses a risk of constriction and life-threatening strangulation of organs, in particular of the large intestine. The risk of strangulation is around 1–3 % per year.
Hernias should always be operated on since the congenital (present at birth) or acquired gap in the abdominal wall will not close on its own. If a hernia is operated on at any early stage, it generally poses no danger. Hence, in principle surgery can be equated with a cure for the disease.
Hernia operations are routine procedures that are performed very often and for many years now. In recent years the surgical techniques have been continually improved, hence there is an optimal form of treatment available for each individual case.