Hernias occurs when a gap forms in one of the tissue layers in the body, allowing bowel and/or omentum to protrude through the hole. This usually occurs when the bowel is under pressure e.g. when someone is coughing or straining during lifting or bending over. The are a number of different places hernias can form, including the inguinal canal, beside the femoral vessels in the groin, in or around the umbilicus, between muscle layers, in the abdominal wall and into areas of a previous incision.
Ultrasound, using high frequency sound waves, is an effective tool in the detection of hernias, as it can image the bowel as it moves in and out of the gap.
You will not be required to change for this examination, but you will be asked to lower your trousers/skirt slightly, or to raise their shirt or top to the level of the chest, to expose the area of interest. A clear gel will be applied to your skin during the study, this is to enable the ultrasound to penetrate the skin layer.
You will lie on your back during the study. The sonographer will ask you to apply pressure on the bowel, to determine if a hernia is present. This is usually achieve by taking a large breath and holding it, and at the same time distending the stomach.