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Most hernias are a weak spot in the belly muscles. This weakness can allow a piece of the intestines or the tissue around them to poke through. A hernia may hurt when your child strains with a bowel movement or lifts something heavy. It may also hurt when your child is active. But some hernias don't cause pain.
Sometimes an organ or tissue gets stuck in the hernia. This can cause serious problems. A hernia repair prevents that from happening.
There are several types of hernias. Umbilical hernias occur when intestine, fat, or fluid pushes through a weak spot in the belly near the belly button. Other types of hernias in the belly include epigastric (near the stomach), ventral (in the middle of the belly), and incisional (where a surgical cut was made). Inguinal and femoral hernias occur in the groin area. Some babies are born with a diaphragmatic hernia. It's an opening in the large muscle (diaphragm) between the lungs and belly.
A doctor can fix a hernia through a cut (incision). This is called open surgery. Or the doctor may make some small cuts and use a thin, lighted scope and small tools. This is laparoscopic surgery. If your child's hernia is bulging, the bulge is pushed back into place. The doctor then sews the healthy tissue back together. Sometimes a piece of material is used to patch the weak spot.
Open surgery will leave a bigger scar. Laparoscopic surgery leaves a few small scars. The scars will fade with time.
The time it takes for your child to heal depends on the type of hernia. Your doctor will tell you when your child can return to normal activity.
Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.
Surgery can be stressful for both your child and you. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for your child's surgery.
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Current as of: April 15, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:John Pope MD - Pediatrics & Peter J. Kahrilas MD - Gastroenterology
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