What is an epigastric hernia repair?
An epigastric hernia is where fat pushes out through a weakness in the wall of the abdomen between the umbilicus and sternum and forms a lump (see figure 1). The most common symptom is pain caused by the fat being pinched by the abdominal wall.
What are the benefits of an epigastric hernia repair?
You should no longer have the hernia. Surgery can help to relieve pain if it is caused by the hernia. You may still have pain if it is caused by another problem.
Are there any alternatives to surgery?
The hernia can be left alone but pain caused by the hernia will usually continue and complications can happen. The hernia will not go away without an operation.
What does the operation involve?
Surgery to repair an epigastric hernia is usually performed under a general anaesthetic. The operation usually takes about half an hour.
Your surgeon will make a cut over the hernia and free up the ‘hernial sac’.
If only fat is pushing through, your surgeon will either remove the fat or push it back. If contents of the abdomen are also pushing through, they will place the contents back inside the abdomen.
Your surgeon will close the weak spot with strong stitches or a synthetic mesh (for larger hernias).
What complications can happen?
General complications of any operation:
- Infection of the surgical site (wound)
- Unsightly scarring
- Blood clots
Specific complications of this operation:
- Developing a lump
- Injury to structures within the abdomen
How soon will I recover?
You should be able to go home the same day.
You should gradually increase how much you walk around over the first few days after your operation.
You should be able to return to work after one to two weeks but this may vary depending on the extent of surgery and your type of work.
Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, you should ask a member of the healthcare team or your GP for advice.
Occasionally the hernia comes back.
An epigastric hernia is a common condition caused by a weakness in the abdominal wall between the umbilicus and sternum. If left untreated, an epigastric hernia can occasionally cause serious complications.
Paying for your procedure
Epigastric hernia repair costs are covered by most medical insurance policies, but please check with your insurer first. If you are paying for your own procedure the cost will be explained and confirmed in writing when you book the procedure. Ask the hospital for a quote beforehand, and ensure that this includes the surgeon’s fee, the anaesthetist’s fee and the hospital charge for your procedure.
Author: Mr Simon Parsons DM FRCS (Gen. Surg.)
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