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What is Umbilical Hernia

The weakest part of the human body is navel region. If the intra-abdominal pressure increases, this can open any time. If the abdominal layers or abdominal organs protrude through the navel due to a breach or opening in the abdominal wall on the navel, the condition is referred as Umbilical Hernia.

Umbilical hernia affects babies and adults. It is estimated that over 90% babies are born with umbilical hernia but they mostly resolve on their own.

Umbilical Hernia in Babies

Symptoms of Umbilical Hernia in Babies

A bulge in the navel area or belly button for babies
The baby frequently cries due to pain. When the baby cries the pressure makes the swelling more evident.
The baby might vomit
The bulge is tender and swollen in both babies

Causes of Umbilical Hernia in Babies

An umbilical cord is a connection between the mother and the fetus before birth (inside the womb). Through this umbilical cord the food for the growing fetus is passed from mother. When the baby is born this umbilical cord is severed. In most babies, the hole of the umbilical cord closes on its own. The closing happens when the abdominal wall layer of the new-born baby joins. For 90% of the babies the closing does not happen fully. So the abdominal layers protrude the belly button. But before the baby is four years old the belly button should close completely. If they do not close completely by four years of age, a surgical intervention may be required.

Umbilical Hernia in Adults

Symptoms of Umbilical Hernia in Adults

A bulge in the navel area or belly button
The bulge is tender and swollen
Pain around the bulged navel region

Causes of Umbilical Hernia in Adults

An umbilical hernia is formed due to the pressure exerted by the abdominal area on the navel. Sometimes if the abdominal wall layer near the navel region is weak, then the pressure can cause an umbilical hernia in adults. Both men and women are equally vulnerable to an umbilical hernia.

Factors that can Aggravate Umbilical Hernia

Obesity is the single biggest factor that can cause an umbilical hernia in adults
Frequent pregnancy
Pregancies with twins or triplets

Risk Groups for Umbilical Hernia

People who are obese
People who get pregnant frequently
People who have undergone any abdominal surgery

Diagnosis of Umbilical Hernia

A normal physical examination is enough to conclude the presence of an umbilical hernia.
If the Hernia surgeon suspects for the presence of any complications, then abdominal ultrasound, and blood tests will be ordered.

Complications of Umbilical Hernia

When the contents of the trapped intestine part in the navel area cannot move then a severe bowel obstruction happens. This is incarceration.
When incarceration has happened, then the blood supply to the intestine part may be cut off and strangulation happens as a result. A strangulated intestine part may develop gangrene.

Surgical Medical Treatment for Umbilical Hernia

The only treatment for an umbilical hernia is surgery.
Hernia repair surgery is done by Laparoscopic surgery technique where the Hernia Surgeon or the GI surgeon makes keyhole incisions on the abdomen.
Through the incisions, the hernia surgeon untangles abdominal tissues or intestine from the navel area to its original place.
Then the hernia surgeon proceeds to close the hole in the abdominal wall by suturing.
If a hernia is strangulated, the hernia surgeon removes the part of the intestine that has developed gangrene. The surgeon then cleans the abdomen thoroughly for any leaked matters and then sutures the healthy part of the intestine together. After this procedure is done, the hernia surgeon closes the hole in the abdominal wall.

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