Umbilical hernia in adults: consequences and prognosis

umbilical hernia

Article reviewed and approved by Dr. Ibtissama Boukas, physician specializing in family medicine

A hernia designates an eminence of an organ or part of an organ emerging from the cavity which normally contains it. There are different kinds of hernias, the best known of which are the cervical disc herniation et la lumbar disc herniation. However, this eminence can be located on other parts of the body. It can form in the diaphragm, groin (inguinal hernia) or the abdominal wall. In this article, we present to you the umbilical hernia in adults.

The umbilical hernia in adults in a nutshell

La umbilical hernia is one of abdominal hernias. The latter are characterized by the protuberance of the peritoneum which comes out of a weak point of the abdominal wall.

There are 3 forms:

  • a incisional hernia: the bulge is located at the level of a scar resulting from an operation;
  • a epigastric hernia: the protrusion is on the midline of the upper abdomen;
  • a umbilical hernia: the eminence is located at the level of the navel.

So, the umbilical hernia results in the exit of the elements of the abdomen through the umbilicus or the navel. It can be the peritoneum, fatty deposits, even portions of the intestines or the colon...

This type of abdominal hernia is uncommon in adults. It mainly affects babies, we speak of " herniated disc infant ". If among the latter, little boys are the most affected, among adults, it is rather women.

La umbilical hernia in adults may be due to:

  • a chronic cough;
  • intense and repeated physical exertion;
  • a lifting load;
  • chronic constipation;
  • a significant increase in weight, especially in cases of obesity or multiple pregnancies.

Symptoms of an umbilical hernia in adults

Le main symptom of an umbilical hernia of the adult is the appearance of a kind of pocket at the level of the navel. Visible to the naked eye, it reintegrates into the abdominal cavity when palpated.

It is for this reason that its diagnosis is above all clinical. Complementary examinations are only necessary in case of doubt about the diagnosis. Sometimes it is confused with an umbilical cyst or a fatty tumor.

The size of the umbilicus protuberance can vary from adult to adult. For some, it can be painless. In others, it can cause localized pain, especially when it becomes very large. Pain during an umbilical hernia occurs during exertion.

You need to see a specialist doctor or surgeon as soon as the navel eminence forms under your skin. And all the more so if it becomes painful or bulky. Indeed, in addition to pain, it can also be an aesthetic discomfort.

The consequences and prognosis of an umbilical hernia in adults

Can you live with an umbilical hernia?

If most of the time, the aesthetic side pushes the people who suffer from an umbilical hernia to consult, other reasons may also convince them. When the volume of the eminence of the umbilicus increases, other consequences may occur.

This abdominal hernia can cause:

  • discomfort;
  • digestive problems: nausea, vomiting or severe pain;
  • from constipation...

Because of its volume, the skin overlying the hernia is often damaged. It becomes inflamed and can be an easy target for infections.

But more serious risks may still arise. When the protruding part becomes more and more voluminous, it exposes to risks of strangulation and rupture. These are urgent and require rapid treatment. Rupture and strangulation can be life threatening.

A strangulated umbilical hernia

La strangulated umbilical hernia translates the phenomenon of strangulation. This compresses the tissues located at the opening of the hernia. This is why it can cause severe pain and sometimes even necrosis of the incarcerated tissues.

This strangulation can also result in:

  • intestinal obstruction (stopping of digestive transit);
  • respiratory failure;
  • nausea ;
  • vomitings ;
  • necrosis of the intestines: in the event of absence of treatment within the next 6 hours;
  • sepsis in case of intestinal necrosis.

Treatment of an umbilical hernia in adults

Can an umbilical hernia in adults be treated without resorting to surgery?

Different plants seem to be beneficial for umbilical hernia symptoms. For example, chamomile, taken as an herbal tea, can prevent gastric reflux. There is also the shepherd: an herb with medicinal properties that can reduce pain as well as inflammation. It should be taken in the form of a paste. It is applied to the place in question.

Restraint techniques also exist. They consist of using bandages or a coin. They seem to reduce the volume of the umbilical hernia, even if it does not disappear. In most cases, these techniques are indicated in children. On the other hand, in adults, they are of no particular interest.

In the context of an umbilical hernia in an adult, when should you operate?

Le main treatment for umbilical hernia in adults is surgical. When you consult for aesthetic discomfort or severe pain, the operation is the only way out.

The operation of an umbilical hernia in adults

How is the operation of an umbilical hernia in adults performed?

THEsurgery an umbilical hernia in an adult is done under general anesthesia. It does not cause intense postoperative pain.

This procedure usually takes 30 minutes. It can be performed on an outpatient basis. In other words, your return can be done the same day of the intervention. It is your surgeon who informs you of the conditions for the possibility of an outpatient operation.

In practice, this operation can be carried out in two ways.

Laparotomy treatment

La laparotomy is a surgical technique that requires a skin incision below the navel. More specifically, it consists of:

  • emptying and removing the hernia sac;
  • reintroduce the contents of the abdominal cavity;
  • close the umbilical opening using a prosthesis that reinforces and protects the abdominal wall.

Laparoscopic treatment

However, laparoscopy uses a mini-camera. This surgical technique is the most appreciated by digestive surgeons, because it facilitates recovery and the postoperative course. This treatment leaves only three small scars. It is generally in case of difficulties during colonoscopy that the surgeon opts for a laparotomy.

More precisely, the laparoscopy consists of:

  • insert the mini-camera into the abdomen;
  • push inwards the elements of the abdomen that have come out;
  • replace them in their usual location;
  • reinforce the abdominal wall with a prosthetic plate.

The postoperative course of an umbilical hernia in adults

At the end of the operation, you are transferred to the recovery room for 2 hours. An anesthesiologist will monitor:

  • your state of consciousness;
  • your pulse;
  • your oxygen saturation;
  • your breathing...

This monitoring makes it possible to prevent various complications. This lasts until you leave.

If you are hospitalized normally, you will remain hospitalized for 24 hours after the operation.

After the umbilical hernia cure, you can resume:

  • a normal diet;
  • light physical activity such as walking;
  • normal physical activity after a few weeks;
  • your professional activity after a week to a month of convalescence.

Complications of umbilical hernia surgery in adults

THEsurgery an umbilical hernia in an adult is not without risk. It can cause complications, although rare, such as:

  • superficial wound infection (most common);
  • blood loss ;
  • bowel injury;
  • a relapse of the hernia.

You should see your doctor again if any of these complications occur.




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