What is an umbilical hernia repair surgery?
A hernia is a protrusion of an internal body part, such as the intestine, through a weak spot in the muscle or the surrounding tissue wall. An umbilical hernia repair is a corrective surgery for a hernia in the navel (umbilicus) region.
An umbilical hernia repair surgery is a procedure to return the herniated tissue back in place and strengthen the muscle wall with stitches and a mesh so the hernia doesn’t reoccur.
What is an umbilical hernia?
An umbilical hernia is an abdominal wall hernia, which occurs when a part of the abdominal membrane, fatty tissue or bowel protrudes through a weak spot in the muscle wall in or near the navel. Umbilical hernia may be
- True or direct umbilical hernia, which is a symmetric protrusion through the umbilical ring, as seen in infants.
- Indirect or paraumbilical hernia, which protrudes just above or below the umbilicus, common in adults.
What causes an umbilical hernia?
Infantile umbilical hernia
Umbilical hernias are common in infants, especially in premature babies. The umbilicus is a small opening in the abdominal muscle wall where the fetus is attached to the mother during pregnancy. This opening normally closes soon after birth.
Umbilical hernia occurs in children when the umbilicus doesn’t close fully and a part of tissue or bowel bulges through. It is often visible as a lump in infants when they laugh, cry or strain, and go back in when the belly is relaxed.
Adult umbilical hernia
Adult umbilical hernia may be caused by
- Ascites (fluid collection in the stomach
- Large abdominal tumors
- Multiple pregnancies
- Previous abdominal surgery
- Pressure on the belly from
- Lifting heavy weights
- Chronic cough
- Chronic vomiting
- Straining to urinate due to enlarged prostate in men
- Straining during bowel movements due to chronic constipation
- Long-term peritoneal dialysis due to kidney failure
Should an umbilical hernia be repaired?
Infantile umbilical hernia
Generally, infantile umbilical hernia resolves on its own within one or two years and does not require surgery. Children may require a hernia repair surgery if:
- the umbilical hernia is larger than 2 cm.
- the umbilical hernia persists beyond four or five years.
- the child experiences pain or swelling in the umbilical hernia.
Adult umbilical hernia
In adults, small hernias without symptoms may be watched. Adult umbilical hernias do not resolve on their own and tend to grow larger. An elective umbilical hernia repair is often recommended in adults to prevent an emergency surgery.
An umbilical hernia repair surgery may be urgently required when there is
- Pain in the hernia
- Incarceration (the protruding tissue gets trapped and can’t retract)
- Strangulation (blood supply to the hernia gets cut off leading to tissue death)
- Hernia rupture
- Skin ulcerations at the hernia site
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