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Omphaloceles are repaired with surgery, although not always immediately. A sac protects the abdominal contents and allows time for other more serious problems (such as heart defects) to be dealt with first, if necessary.
To fix an omphalocele, the sac is covered with a special man-made material, which is then stitched in place. Slowly, over time, the abdominal contents are pushed into the abdomen.
When the omphalocele can comfortably fit within the abdominal cavity, the man-made material is removed and the abdomen is closed.
Sometimes the omphalocele is so large that it cannot be placed back inside the infant's abdomen. The skin around the omphalocele grows and eventually covers the omphalocele. The abdominal muscles and skin can be repaired when the child is older to achieve a better cosmetic outcome.
Complete recovery is expected after surgery for an omphalocele. However, omphaloceles often occur with other birth defects. How well a child does depends on which other conditions the child also has.
If the omphalocele is identified before birth, the mother should be closely monitored to make sure the unborn baby remains healthy. Plans should be made for careful delivery and immediate management of the problem after birth. The baby should be delivered in a medical center that is skilled at repairing omphaloceles. The baby's outcome is improved if he or she does not need to be taken to another center for further treatment.
Parents should consider screening their unborn baby for other genetic problems that are associated with this condition.
This problem is diagnosed and repaired in the hospital at birth. After returning home, call your health care provider if the infant develops any of these symptoms:
Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 17th ed. St. Louis, MO: WB Saunders; 2004:2116-2117.
Ledbetter DJ. Gastroschisis and omphalocele. Surg Clin North Am. 2006;86(2):249-260.
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