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What is an Umbilical Hernia?

The weakest part of the human body is the 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 to as Umbilical Hernia.

This condition affects babies and adults. It is estimated that over 90% of babies are born with this condition but they mostly resolve on their own.

Umbilical Hernia in Babies

Symptoms 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 this condition 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.

In Adults

Symptoms of this condition 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 this condition in Adults

This condition happens \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 this condition in adults. Both men and women are equally vulnerable to this condition.

Factors that can Aggravate

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

Risk Groups

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

General Diagnosis

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


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 Treatment

The only treatment for an umbilical hernia is surgery.
Surgery for this condition is done by Laparoscopic surgery technique where the Surgeon or the GI surgeon makes keyhole incisions on the abdomen.
Through the incisions, the surgeon untangles abdominal tissues or intestine from the navel area to its original place.
Then the surgeon proceeds to close the hole in the abdominal wall by suturing.
If it is strangulated, the 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 surgeon closes the hole in the abdominal wall.

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