Your navel, or belly button, is where the
umbilical cord enters your body to provide you nourishment when you were a
fetus. After birth, the opening closes naturally, creating the navel. An
umbilical hernia is a condition where a part of your intestine protrudes through
a gap or weak spot in your abdominal muscles at or near the navel. This is a
common condition in infants and the protrusion often recedes within the first 2
years of life. If the condition remains till the 4th or 5th
year, surgery may be required to fix it. Umbilical hernia in children is
usually painless and causes no physical discomfort.
Umbilical Hernia in Adults
Umbilical hernia in adults occur for a
number of reasons, the most common of which are being clinically obese, lifting
of heavy objects or having a chronic and/or persistent cough. In women, multiple
pregnancies increase the risk of hernia. The bulge of the hernia may recede
when lying down and become more apparent while standing, coughing, going to the
toilet or laughing. If the hernia is large, there may be varying degrees of
pain and discomfort. If any of the following symptoms exist, the treatment of
the condition has probably been delayed already:
- The area of the hernia becomes
- The size of the bulge increases
- Pressure on the bulge causes
Although an umbilical hernia is not
considered a critical medical condition, the longer the treatment is delayed,
the greater is the risk of developing complications.
An umbilical hernia is diagnosed during a
physical examination. If the doctor suspects there may be complications such a bowel
obstruction, additional tests such as X-rays, blood tests and ultrasounds may
The standard treatment for umbilical hernia
in adults is through surgery where the bulge is pushed back into place and the
abdominal wall is strengthened to prevent the condition from occurring again.
The operation is typically a quick one and either open or laparoscopic surgery
may be used, depending on what the surgeon thinks is best for the patient.
- In the cases of open procedure
the surgeon will make an incision and then, through the opening in the abdomen,
use mesh and stiches to close the gap or weak areas of the muscles.
- In laparoscopic surgery (or keyhole
surgery as it is also known) only a very small incision is made in the abdomen
and special minute tools are used the make put the mesh and stiches in place.
In both cases, the recovery time in minimal
and often the patient is able to return home on the same day of the surgery.
Follow up visits are required to monitor the progress of the recovery.
If you find a bulge in or near your navel, possibilities
are, it could be an umbilical hernia. Even if there is no pain or discomfort,
it should be examined by a doctor so that the required treatment can be
prescribed to correct the problem before complications set in. While an
umbilical hernia is not, in itself, a major medical condition, if not treated
in time, it may cause other health problems, many of which may be serious. If
you suspect you have a hernia condition, visit a hospital that has a
Center of Excellence which ensures that you will receive the best possible
care and treatment.