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Umbilical Hernia - Everything You Should Know About It!

Written and reviewed by
MS, MBBS
General Surgeon, Gurgaon  •  31 years experience
Umbilical Hernia - Everything You Should Know About It!

Umbilical hernia refers to a condition where your intestine protrudes through the opening of the belly button. This condition generally affects infants, but some people may suffer from it in adulthood as well. Umbilical hernias are common but do not cause any health issues in most cases. However, in some instances, the disorder leads to problematic symptoms.

Symptoms of umbilical hernia:

If you or your child suffers from the symptoms mentioned below, you should seek treatment.

Pain
• Nausea/vomiting
• Discolouration and swelling at the region of the hernia

If one or more of these symptoms appear, seeking treatment at the earliest is necessary to avoid further complications.

Complications from umbilical hernia:

Even though complications from the disorder are rare in infants, they are not unheard of. The most common complication occurs when the portion of the intestine protruding from the belly button is trapped. In such a case, blood supply to this region is cut. This can lead to tissue death or gangrene. The infection slowly spreads to the rest of the digestive system, causing a life-threatening situation.

Adults who have umbilical hernia are more likely to suffer from complications of the condition.

Treatment for umbilical hernias:

Treatment differs based on the age of the patient. In most infants, the umbilical hernia does not produce any symptoms. In fact, such hernias typically disappear on their own after a year or two. A doctor may also be able to push the hernia in during a routine check-up. However, you should not try to do this yourself.

When is surgery needed for an umbilical hernia?

An infant requires surgery for the hernia if he/she experiences the following traits-

• Pain
• The hernia has a diameter larger than half an inch
• The hernia is large and does not decrease in size in the first two years of the child’s life
• Does not disappear even when the child reaches the age of four
• The external portion of the intestine sticks out and gets trapped.

However, in the case of umbilical hernias affecting adults, a doctor will always recommend surgery to avoid possible complications arising from the disorder.

How is the surgery performed?
For both infants and adults with an umbilical hernia, the surgical procedure remains the same. The surgeon makes a small incision at the base of the belly button. The doctor uses this opening to return the external part of the intestine inside the abdominal cavity. Once this is complete, the doctor stitches the incision.

In adults, a supportive mesh is also used to ensure that the intestine does not protrude once more through the belly button.

Laparoscopic hernia repair is suitable for all types of a hernia such as an umbilical hernia. Just like an inguinal hernia, A camera is placed into the abdomen through the muscles. Two small incisions are made for the operating instruments to get through. This is followed by the cutting of the tissue that is placed between a hernia and the intestine. The hole thus gets exposed. Through one of the laparoscopic ports, the hernia mesh gets rolled and is placed into the abdomen. A hernia is then pulled up and the mesh gets secured with 4 sutures. A special device is used to fix healthy muscle.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult a specialist & get answers to your questions!
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