When internal tissue or organs protrude through a weak spot in the muscles of your abdomen, it’s called a hernia. An umbilical hernia is a bulge through your belly button. While it’s possible for a hernia to be an inconvenience and not dangerous, the condition won’t heal itself spontaneously, and it can be painful when you lift heavy objects, bend over, or cough.
Usually, an inguinal hernia shows as a bulge on either side of your abdomen near the pubic bone. It’s more prominent when you stand up, and it may be accompanied by an ache or burning sensation. When you’re lying on your back, the hernia can often be gently pushed back into your abdomen, and an ice pack may reduce swelling enough to make this easier.
If the hernia can’t be pushed back in, it may be what’s called an incarcerated hernia, a potentially serious condition.
In this case, incarceration means that the tissue that pushes through the abdominal wall is trapped. If the blood flow to it gets interrupted, it may become strangulated, which without treatment could become life-threatening. Symptoms of a strangulated hernia include:
If you have any of these symptoms, contact Dr. Heilbron as soon as possible.
Hernias without symptoms may be treated with a “watch and wait” plan. Once a hernia enlarges or becomes painful, surgery is usually necessary to relieve pain and prevent complications. Hernias can be repaired through conventional open surgery or using laparoscopic techniques.
In either case, the goals of surgery are essentially the same. The protruding tissue is first restored to its proper location in the abdomen. The weakened area of the abdominal wall is then repaired by stitching the opening closed. This weakened area may be reinforced with a synthetic mesh, a procedure called hernioplasty.
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