An umbilical hernia is a weakness in the stomach lining, characterised by a swelling around the navel as tissues push through, according to MedLinePlus. In children, it can repair itself by three or four years of age. If it does not do so, surgery is indicated. It is relatively common among adults as well, primarily in overweight individuals and in women, following pregnancy.
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Surgery to repair an umbilical hernia is often done on an outpatient basis. In many cases, a mesh is used to cover the opening in the belly lining. MedLinePlus states that this is an accepted and safe procedure for repairing this kind of a hernia. The mesh is inserted and stitched to the adjacent tissues. Eventually, the tissues heal over the mesh and it becomes an integral part of the body, never needing to be removed.
Problems and Risks
While MedLinePlus states that this is the generally accepted procedure, there are some risks to using mesh. Multiple manufacturers produce mesh for these kinds of surgeries. Therefore, the physician must understand the physiology of the patient and know details about available mesh products to ensure the appropriate product is being used. In rare cases, the mesh may cause abdominal swelling and pain.
A physical examination will determine if the hernia is small enough to be repaired using local anesthetic or if the hernia is large enough to warrant full anesthetic. The anaesthetist will review with the patient their medical history and current health, according to MedLinePlus, in order to ensure proper and safe anaesthesia use. He may ask the patient not to eat or drink for six hours prior to the procedure. The physician may ask that the patient cease any use of aspirin, anti-inflammatories or blood thinners two to four days prior to surgery.
Surgery will likely be done on an outpatient basis. The patient will be released once vital signs are good and health is deemed stable. The physician will teach the patient how to care for incision area at home, according to MedLinePlus. If redness, swelling, undue or unusual pain, bleeding or fever occur, the physician should be contacted at once.
Very few umbilical hernias recur after surgery. Incidences which may cause incurrence to be more likely include a very large hernia, surgery done without mesh or surgery performed on a child younger than three years old, according to the MedLinePlus. While side effects may occur with mesh, surgeries are more successful when using the mesh than when performed without it.
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