Doctors can diagnose a hernia through a physical exam and diagnostic tests. Although there are different types of hernias, many may be felt or manifest as a visible protrusion at the hernia site. A hernia symptom, such as pain at the hernia site when lifting a heavy weight, can also help to diagnose this medical condition, notes eMedicineHealth.
An inguinal hernia may also be diagnosed through a physical exam. Because these hernia types can cause a bulge in the groin area, a doctor can ask a patient to stand up and cough to see signs of a protrusion, notes Mayo Clinic.
Some other types of hernias are femoral, hiatal and umbilical hernias. Although a femoral hernia may present pelvic pain as a symptom, a CT scan may be necessary for a diagnosis. In the case of a hiatal hernia that may be related GERD (gastroesophageal disease), a physical exam, chest X-rays and CT scans may help in diagnosing this condition, states MedicineNet. Because umbilical hernias can cause a visible bulge in the navel area, they are diagnosed most often through a physical exam.
A strangulated hernia may be diagnosed through an X-ray or a CT scan. However, these types of hernias can also present symptoms that include fever, pain and nausea. Because a strangulated hernia can cause the death of bowel tissue in the affected area, surgery is often necessary.