Umbilical Hernia Repair
What is it?
The umbilical cord connects a mother and her fetus while it is in the womb. The umbilical cord passes through a small opening between the abdominal wall muscles of the baby.
The hole typically closes soon after birth. However, when a part of the bowel or fatty tissue pokes through an area near the belly button, it pushes through a weak spot in the surrounding abdominal wall causing the medical condition called Umbilical Hernia.
If it is a reducible hernia, the doctor can push it back into the abdominal cavity. If it is trapped in its place, this type of hernia is called incarcerated, which can become a serious complication as the herniated content might be deprived of blood supply. This condition is called strangulation and it can lead to permanent damage to the tissue.
An Umbilical Hernia usually occurs due to the following conditions in the mother while pregnant:
- Being overweight
- Frequent pregnancies
- Multiple gestation pregnancies (having twins, triplets, etc.)
- Excess fluid in the abdominal cavity
- Abdominal surgery
- Having a persistent, heavy cough
Some of the symptoms exhibited are:
- Obstructed intestine
- Loss of Appetite
- Pressure in lower abdomen
- Lump near the belly button
The doctor would conduct the following diagnostic tests to confirm Umbilical Hernia
- Physical examination: involves the doctor checking the lower abdomen of either the infant or the mother to locate a bulge near the belly button.
- The doctors might opt for an X-ray, an abdominal ultrasound or a CT Scan to ensure there are no complications.
- Blood Tests to check for any infection or ischemia, usually done if the intestine is incarcerated or strangulated.
Treatments for an umbilical hernia depend on the age of the patient. If an infant is diagnosed with this hernia, no surgical procedure is performed due to the nature of the healing process. In many cases, an umbilical hernia in infants will correct itself before reaching age 5. If this hernia remains, then surgical intervention is recommended to repair the rupture.
Adults diagnosed with an umbilical hernia are advised to have surgery. Because this hernia can become worse, repairing the rupture may prevent serious complications.
Two surgical treatment options are available to correct an umbilical hernia include:
- Laparoscopic Hernia Repair: a tube with a camera at one end is inserted into small incisions made on the abdomen. The surgeon performs this surgical procedure by viewing the internal area on a video monitor. Instruments can be inserted into the tube to perform surgery such as cutting and suturing.
- Open Hernia Repair: is the most common surgical technique that involves cutting into the affected region. It is an invasive surgery that repairs the rupture and can move contents back into place.
Use precautions to avoid creating a constant pressure in the lower abdomen, straining while having a bowel movement and during lifting, and forcing out coughs and sneezes with the potential to inflict harm near the belly button. Any sharp movement, though it appears minor, might lead to a hernia.