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Definition Return to top
Umbilical hernia repair is surgery to repair an umbilical hernia. An umbilical hernia is a weak spot in the inner liningof your belly that allows tissue in your abdomen to push through.
Description Return to top
You will probably receive general anesthesia (asleep and pain-free) for this surgery. If your hernia is small, you may receive local anesthesia and medicine to relax you. You will be awake but pain-free.
Your surgeon will make an incision (cut) under your belly button.
Why the Procedure is Performed Return to top
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 it bulge out more.
In infants, the defect 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. Most surgeons recommend surgery to repair them, since they tend to get bigger over time.
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.
Incarcerated abdominal tissue is stuck, and cannot be freed easily. This may cause nausea, vomiting, and bloating. 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.
Risks Return to top
Risks for any anesthesia are:
Risks for any surgery are:
A specific risk of umbilical hernia surgery is injury to the bowel (large intestine). This is rare.
Before the Procedure Return to top
An anesthesiologist will discuss your (or your child’s) medical history to determine the right amount and type of anesthesia to use. You or your child may be asked to stop eating and drinking 6 hours before surgery. Make sure you tell your doctor or nurse about any medications, allergies, or history of bleeding problems.
Several days prior to surgery, you may be asked to stop taking aspirin or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as Ibuprofen, Motrin, Advil, or Aleve, or other blood thinning medications.
After the Procedure Return to top
Most umbilical hernia repairs are done on an outpatient basis. Some may require a short hospital stay if the hernia is very large.
After surgery, your doctor and nurse will monitor your vital signs (pulse, blood pressure, and breathing). You will stay in the recovery area until you are stable. Your doctor will prescribe pain medicine if you need it.
Your doctor or nurse will show you how to care for your or your child’s incision at home. You or your child should be able to do all your normal activities in 2 to 4 weeks.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
Very few umbilical hernias come back. Recurrence is more likely if:
References Return to top
Warner BW. Pediatric surgery. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 18th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2008:chap 71.Update Date: 1/30/2009 Updated by: Robert A. Cowles, MD, Assistant Professor of Surgery, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.