Hernia Overview (cont.)

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What non-surgical treatments are available for an abdominal hernia?

If an inguinal or umbilical hernia is small and does not cause symptoms, a watchful waiting approach may be reasonable. Routine follow-up may be all that is needed, especially if the hernia does not grow in size. However, if the hernia does grow or if there is concern about potential incarceration, then surgery may be recommended. Patients who are at high risk for surgery and anesthesia may be offered this approach.

Trusses, corsets, or binders can hold hernias in place by placing pressure on the skin and abdominal wall. These are temporary approaches and potentially can cause skin damage, breakdown, and infection because of rubbing and chaffing. They are often used in older or debilitated patients who have an increased risk to undergo surgery and when the hernia defect is very large.

Unless the defect is large, umbilical hernias in children tend to resolve on their own by 1 year of age. Surgery may be considered if the hernia is still present at age 3 or 4, or if the defect in the umbilicus is large.

Hiatal hernias by themselves do not cause symptoms. Instead it is the acid reflux that causes gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Treatment is aimed at decreasing acid production in the stomach and preventing acid from entering the esophagus. For more, please refer to the Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) article.

What is the prognosis for an abdominal hernia?

Most patients who undergo elective hernia repair do well. Incisional hernias may recur up to 10% of the time. The prognosis for patients who undergo emergent hernia repair because of incarcerated or strangulated bowel depends upon the extent of surgery, how much intestine is damaged, and their underlying health and physical condition prior to the surgery. For this reason, elective hernia repair is much preferred.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/14/2013

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