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A paraumbilical hernia is a protrusion of the abdominal contents through the muscles surrounding the navel. This condition is congenital, and in many patients, it does not cause any health problems. Routine surgery may be recommended to prevent complications in the future, and the procedure is usually brief and quite safe. Patients who opt not to pursue surgery should monitor the site of the paraumbilical hernia closely for any signs of complications.
In patients with this condition, the muscles of the abdominal wall are weak or separated, allowing the abdominal lining to push through. In a mild paraumbilical hernia, the protrusion may include only some fluid and tissue. Larger hernias can include sections of the intestine, raising the risk of strangulation, where the tissue becomes twisted, cutting off the supply of blood, and it dies. This can lead to severe complications, like peritonitis.
The paraumbilical hernia will be visible as a swelling around the site of the navel. If it starts to grow or turns reddish, tender, and hot, it is a sign that it is increasing and the patient may be experiencing strangulation. Surgical treatment is needed as soon as possible to address the issue. In the surgery, patients will be placed under general anesthesia to allow the surgeon to open up the hernia, push the abdominal contents back, install a mesh to keep them from pushing through again, and then close the incision.
When an paraumbilical hernia is diagnosed, a doctor may recommend surgery to treat it. This will prevent complications in the future by addressing the hernia before it has a chance to grow and strangulate. It can also address aesthetic concerns, as the swelling and protrusion of the hernia is generally not very attractive to look at and patients may feel more comfortable after the surgery. Since this condition is usually diagnosed in infancy, the parents will need to consider the risks and benefits of surgery before making a decision.
Like other hernias, a paraumbilical hernia can develop serious complications very quickly. There is a risk of strangulation or rupture, potentially contributing to the development of a bowel infection. With treatment, the patient can recover, but it is possible that permanent lifestyle changes will be made, such as adjusting the diet to compensate for loss of part of the bowel. In patients who are not treated at the time of diagnosis, it is important to receive care if the hernia's characteristics appear to be changing, as this can be a sign of emerging complications.