Sometimes a hernia appears as the nearby body wall weakens with the passing of time.
Sometimes the hernia is caused when coughing, heavy work or sport overstrains the tissues.
Umbilical hernias are very common and easily treated, particularly when small. If treated when they are small, this will prevent strangulation and make the strongest repair.
The aims are threefold.
- To remove any bowel or omentum from the hernia. This usually means pushing them back inside the tummy cavity. If the bowel or omentum is strangulated, they may need to be removed.
- To remove or push back the sac.
- To repair the weakness to prevent the hernia coming back.
The most common way to do the operation is while you are asleep with a general anaesthetic. A local anaesthetic may be used for a very small hernia.
You should stop having pain and the swelling will be gone. There should be no risk of strangulation.
Are there any alternatives?
Simply waiting and seeing if you have more trouble, is reasonable if the hernia is not giving any pain.
The repair of a very large hernia can be a major operation. A balance is needed between the risks of the operation and the risks of the hernia strangulating. An abdominal support may be worthwhile if an operation may be dangerous.
Some very large hernias have several loops of bowel in them. If one loop strangulates, it may be safer to limit the operation to the removal of the damaged bowel and to not add the risks of a hernia repair at that time.
Author: Mr Michael Edwards FRCSEng FRCSEd. Consultant general surgeon.
© Dumas Ltd 2006