What is an abdominal hernia?
A hernia is a protrusion of tissue from one area of the body through the wall that contains it. The abdomen is a common place for hernias to occur. Hernias may be present at birth due to incomplete closure of a structure, or they may develop later due to increased abdominal pressure pushing against a weakened area of muscle or its fibrous sheath (fascia). Inguinal hernias, which occur in about five in 100 children, more frequently in boys than girls, are the most common type of abdominal hernias.
What causes abdominal hernia?
Some abdominal hernias may be present at birth, and these are called congenital hernias. They generally result from incomplete or inadequate closure of part of the abdominal wall. You can also develop a hernia over time in weakened areas of the abdominal wall. These may not be noticeable at first, but as abdominal pressure continues to force tissues or intestines through the opening, a lump will be revealed under the skin.
There is a tendency for some types of hernias to run in families.
What are the symptoms of abdominal hernia?
Some abdominal hernias occur without symptoms. A bulge may be noticed in the abdomen, groin, scrotum or labia. It may increase in size when abdominal pressure is increased, which occurs with coughing or heavy lifting. The area may be painful.
Common symptoms of abdominal hernia include:• Bulging area or lump in the belly or groin
• Enlargement of the lump with an increase in abdominal pressure
• Lump that is reducible with gentle pressure
• Painful lump
• Pain radiating down the leg
• Redness of the skin over a lump
• Swelling of the labia or scrotum
Certain symptoms may indicate a life-threatening abdominal hernia. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have any of these life-threatening symptoms including:• Change in bowel habits, such as an inability to have bowel movements or pass gas
• High fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit)
• Increased swelling of a known hernia
• Not producing any urine, or an infant who does not produce the usual amount of wet diapers
• Painful new bulge or mass
• Severe abdominal pain
• Severe nausea and vomiting
How is an abdominal hernia treated?
The only cure for abdominal hernia is surgery, typically performed when your hernia has become uncomfortable or painful, or has increased in size. The surgical procedure involves pushing the protruding tissues and organs back into the abdominal cavity; removing the stretched, protruding portion of the peritoneum; and closing the peritoneal defect in the abdominal wall. Often, the site will be reinforced with mesh to reduce the risk of recurrence.