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Umbilical hernia repair is surgery to repair an umbilical hernia. An umbilical hernia is a sac (pouch) formed from the inner lining of your belly (abdominal cavity) that pushes through a hole in the abdominal wall at the belly button.
You will probably receive general anesthesia (asleep and pain-free) for this surgery. If your hernia is small, you may receive spinal or epidural block anesthesia and medicine to relax you. You will be awake but pain-free.
Your surgeon will make a surgical cut under your belly button.
Umbilical hernia can also be repaired using a laparoscope, a thin, lighted tube that lets the doctor see inside your belly. The laparoscope will be inserted through one of the cuts and instruments will be inserted through the other cuts.
Umbilical hernias are fairly common. A hernia at birth will push the belly button out. It shows more when a baby cries because the pressure from crying makes the hernia bulge out more.
In infants, the problem is not usually treated with surgery. Most of the time, the umbilical hernia shrinks and closes on its own by the time a child is 3 or 4 years old.
Umbilical hernia repair may be needed in children for these reasons:
Umbilical hernias are fairly common in adults. They are seen more in overweight people and in women, especially after pregnancy. They tend to get bigger over time.
Smaller hernias with no symptoms sometimes can be watched. Surgery may pose greater risks for patients with serious medical problems.
Without surgery, there is a risk that some fat or part of the intestine will get stuck (incarcerated) in the hernia and become impossible to push back in. This is usually painful. If the blood supply to this area is cut off (strangulation), urgent surgery is needed. You may experience nausea or vomiting, and the bulging area may turn blue or a darker color.
To avoid this problem, surgeons often recommend repairing the umbilical hernia in adults. Surgery is also used for hernias that are getting larger or are painful. Surgery secures the weakened abdominal wall tissue (fascia) and closes any holes.
Get medical care right away if you have a hernia that does not get smaller when you are lying down or that you cannot push back in.
Warner BW. Pediatric surgery. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 18th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 71.
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