An internal body organ which pushes into an area out of its containment is called a hernia. It can either be an internal organ such as the intestine or abdominal fatty tissue pushing through a weakened area in the body. The hernia may cause slight to severe pain. The pain can occur while resting or only during certain activities such as walking or running. If the blood supply at the hernia opening is cut off, it becomes a medical emergency this to prevent such a condition, proper treatment must be done in due time which may include minor operations.
What is Umbilical Hernia?
An umbilical cord in the mother's body connects her to the fetus while it is in the womb and passes through a small opening in their stomach muscles near the belly button. Though in most cases the hole closes soon after birth if such does not happen and tissues or the intestine bulge through this weak spot, the type of hernia is called the umbilical hernia.
What causes Umbilical Hernia?
When the opening in the stomach muscle through which the umbilical cord passes fails to close by itself an umbilical hernia occurs. It not only is common in case of babies but also may happen to adults.
In case of babies, this type of hernia mainly occurs due to premature birth or lower birth weight. In case of adults, this happens when too much pressure is put on a weak section of the stomach muscles due to factors such as being overweight, frequent pregnancies, multiple gestation pregnancies that are having twins or triplets, fluid in the abdominal cavity, stomach surgery or having a persistent, heavy cough.
What are the symptoms of an umbilical hernia?
Symptoms in case of babies cannot be identified when the baby is relaxed. The main symptom is a swelling or bulge near the umbilical area which is noticed only when the baby is crying, laughing or straining at stools.
The symptoms are same in case of an adult that is they too have a swelling or bulge near the naval area which can be painful. The pain may cause vomiting and the swollen area may be discolored in case of both adults as well as babies.
How can Umbilical Hernia be treated?
Umbilical hernias in case of children sometimes heal up by themselves by the age of three to four. if it does not heal by the age of four or becomes painful surgical repair is needed.
The operation can be done by a conventional open technique or laparoscopically.
In the laparoscopic method, the pain caused is minimal and recovery is faster than the open method.
Authored By Dr G Parthasarathy - Surgical Gastroenterologist, Hyderabad