Developing an epigastric hernia is more common than you can imagine.
Developing this type of hernia is common in both adults and children. However, there is a quick procedure to remove it.
What is an epigastric hernia?
An epigastric hernia is a lump in the midline between your umbilicus (belly button) and sternum (breastbone) which can cause pain. Your abdominal cavity contains your intestines and other structures. These are protected by your abdominal wall, which is made up of four layers.
In an epigastric hernia, fat pushes out through a weakness in the wall of your abdomen between your umbilicus and sternum and forms a lump. The most common symptom is pain caused by the fat being pinched by your abdominal wall.
What are the benefits of surgery?
Surgery can help to relieve pain that is caused by the hernia and it should prevent from appearing again.
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. Unfortunately, this type of hernia will not get better without surgery.
What does the procedure involve?
The operation is usually performed under a general anaesthetic, but various anaesthetic techniques are possible that your doctor will discuss with you during your consultation. The operation usually takes about 30 minutes. Your surgeon will make a cut over the hernia and free up the ‘hernial sac’.
If it’s the case that only fat is pushing through, your surgeon will either remove the fat or push it back. However, if the contents of your abdomen are also pushing through, it will be pushed back inside your abdomen. Afterwards, your surgeon will remove the hernial sac and close the weak spot with strong stitches or a synthetic mesh.
What complications can happen?
Like all surgical procedures, some complications can be serious and can even cause death. However, you can discuss the following general and specific complications with your doctor:
General complications of any operation
- Infection of the surgical site (wound)
- Unsightly scarring of your skin
- Blood clot in your leg
- Blood clot in your lung
Specific complications of this operation
- Developing a collection of blood (haematoma) or fluid (seroma) under your wound
- Injury to structures within your abdomen
How soon will I recover?
You should be able to go home the same day. However, you won’t be able to go back to work for 1 to 2 weeks. Returning to work will depend on how much surgery you need and the type of work you do.
Your doctor will remind you that you cannot lift anything heavy for at least 6 weeks. Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice. After 6 weeks, most people make a full recovery and can return to normal activities. It’s good to bear in mind that the hernia can come back many years later and you may need another operation.
Overall, an epigastric hernia is a common condition caused by a weakness in your abdominal wall between your umbilicus and sternum. If left untreated, an epigastric hernia can cause serious complications. To find out more call us on 0808 101 0337.
Author: Mr Simon Parsons DM FRCS (Gen. Surg.)
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