An intestinal hernia occurs when a portion of the intestines begins to protrude through the abdominal wall. Common symptoms of an intestinal hernia include abdominal pain, the presence of a lump in the abdomen, and fever. There are different types of intestinal hernias, including reducible, irreducible, and strangulated hernias. Treatment options vary according to individual symptoms as well as the type of hernia present, although surgical intervention is often necessary.
A reducible intestinal hernia often becomes noticeable due to the development of a lump in the abdominal area, frequently in the groin region. Often, this type of hernia is not painful unless someone presses against the lump. The lump may increase in size when performing activities such as standing or coughing. Occasionally, the patient may experience pain before a noticeable lump develops. In many cases, as long as the hernia is not large, it can be pushed back into its normal position.
An irreducible hernia often occurs when a reducible hernia can no longer be pushed back into its normal position. There may be considerable abdominal pain associated with this type of intestinal hernia, although the pain frequently comes and goes. This type of intestinal hernia may sometimes lead to a bowel obstruction, causing symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and weight loss.
A strangulated hernia begins as an irreducible hernia, but the blood supply to the intestines gets cut off. This is considered a medical emergency and requires immediate medical attention. Symptoms may include constant pain and tenderness in the abdominal region. Nausea and vomiting are common in patients with a strangulated hernia as well.
If intestinal hernia symptoms are mild, no immediate treatment may be necessary. In these cases, a doctor will closely monitor the patient for potential signs of complications. Pain medications may be prescribed if the patient is experiencing moderate to severe pain.
If the intestinal hernia becomes large, causes a bowel obstruction, or becomes strangulated, surgical intervention often becomes necessary. The damaged portion of the intestine may be removed, or a piece of sturdy mesh material may be inserted into the abdomen to prevent the intestines from protruding through the abdominal wall. This type of surgery has a high success rate, although the hernia still has a small chance of returning. In the most severe cases, when extensive intestinal damage has occurred, the entire colon may have to be removed in order to save the life of the patient.