Umbilical hernia is a medical condition wherein the weakening of the abdominal wall causes a bulge at the navel. In this article, we will look into umbilical hernia repair along with causes and complications of this form of hernia.
Umbilical hernia, which is also referred to as a herniated belly button, is a condition that is characterized by a bulge at the navel. The bulge that is seen at the belly button, occurs when tissues of the contents of the abdominal cavity protrude through a weakened spot in the abdominal wall. This condition can affect both children and adults.
In case of infants affected by this condition, the bulge around the umbilicus or the belly button resolves by the time the child completes one year. Umbilical hernia repair, is suggested, only if the protrusion remains even after the child completes four years. In case of adults, surgery might be recommended if the protrusion is big, and seems to be getting enlarged. Given below is some information on the causes, risk factors and the procedure used for the treatment of this medical condition.
A herniated belly button is quite common in infants. You might already be aware of the fact that the fetus receives the nourishment from the mother through the umbilical cord. The umbilical cord that arises from the placenta in the mother’s womb connects to an opening in the infant’s belly. It acts as the carrier of the mother’s lifeblood, and facilitates the growth of the fetus.
During childbirth, the doctors cut the umbilical cord, which then leaves behind a small stump. The stump withers away soon and the umbilical ring closes. If due to any reason, the umbilical ring doesn’t close or the muscles present in the area become weak, it causes a herniated belly button. The bulge is not very conspicuous, but becomes evident when the infant cries.
In case of adults, herniated belly button may be caused due to repetitive strain to the abdominal muscles due to lifting heavy objects or severe and persistent coughing. Those who are obese are also at an increased risk of developing this condition. Strain during childbirth, especially, in women who have gone through multiple pregnancies, could also cause a herniated belly button. Ascites, which is a medical condition associated with the buildup of fluid in the abdominal cavity, is also a risk factor for belly button hernia in adults.
A bulge at the belly button is usually the only symptom associated with umbilical hernia in infants. It doesn’t cause pain or discomfort, and resolves on its own. However, treatment would be needed if the bulge is prominent and remains even after the child has completed four years. Surgery may also become necessary if the hernia turns into an incarcerated or strangulated hernia. Incarcerated hernia is said to occur when a part of the intestine gets stuck within the hernia, while strangulated hernia is a serious condition wherein the blood supply to the herniated tissues or organs gets cut off.
If left untreated, this could turn into a life-threatening condition. It must, therefore, be corrected with the help of surgery. Surgery for hernia is categorized into open surgery or a laparoscopic surgery. Both of these procedures are performed after administering general anesthesia to the patient. In case of an open surgery, the surgeon makes an incision in the abdomen. After that, the tissues or organs that are protruding from the weak spot or tear in the abdominal wall are pushed back. The abdominal wall is then stitched back. In case of big tears, a surgical mesh is sewn over the margins of the weak spots in the abdominal wall, after which the incision is closed.
If the patient doesn’t seem to be a suitable candidate for open surgery, a minimally-invasive laparoscopic hernia surgery might be performed. This procedure involves the insertion of a laparoscope through a small incision. This instrument allows the doctors to view the interior organs. The surgeon refers to the images on the video monitor and makes a few tiny incisions to insert the surgical instruments.
A surgical mesh is then placed over the weakened section of the abdominal wall and the incision is sutured. As is the case with most surgical procedures, there is a risk of infection or bleeding. Complications may also be attributed to the administration of anesthesia. If the patient suffers from swelling, soreness and accumulation of pus around the incision, or is unable to urinate, he/she must consult the doctor immediately.
It is extremely important that the patient refrains from lifting weight or indulging in any activity that may strain the abdominal muscles. Under normal circumstances, the patient may take about two to four weeks to recover from this surgery, but if any complications arise, one may take longer to recover.
Since herniated belly button in infants is mostly asymptomatic and resolves on its own, surgery is rarely needed. However, surgery may be needed if hernia becomes incarcerated or strangulated. Those of you, who have recently undergone a surgery for this form of hernia must take rest and avoid any activity that can lead to a recurrence of hernia.