What is a Ventral hernia?
A weak spot or hole in the muscles of the abdominal wall leads to looping of the intestine or forces tissue to push through the layer of muscle, manifesting ventral hernia. The location of a ventral hernia can be anywhere across the midline or vertical centre of the abdomen.
Typically, there are three types of ventral herniations, as described below.
Occurring in the stomach area, below the breastbone and above the belly button or navel, an epigastric hernia can develop both in men and women.
Appearing primarily in the belly button area, umbilical hernias are treatable and seldom serious. Improper closure of the abdominal muscle that allows passage of the umbilical cord leads to hernia.
Generally, evolving at the site of a previous abdominal surgery, an incisional hernia appears on the scar. There is no specific time frame identified for its development.
Causes and risk factors for ventral hernia
An infection at a previous abdominal surgery site
Weakness at the site of a preceding incision
Failed surgical mesh placement
Unsuccessful surgical repair
Congenital weaknesses of the abdominal wall
Weakness of the abdominal wall due to persistent strain as a result of
Obesity and overweight dispositions
Frequent episodes of coughing
Severe bouts of vomiting
Lifting, pushing heavy objects
Straining while urinating or during bowel movements
Emphysema: Due to which the patient is unable to breathe leading to a strain on the abdominal wall
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD where patient experiences shortness of breath due to poor airflow
Enlargement of the prostate gland or prostatism causing the older male patients to strain while urinating
Loss of elasticity of the abdominal wall due to old age
Signs and Symptoms
In its early stages, ventral hernia seldom causes any discomfort. A visible bulge appears in the abdomen area, right under the skin and is tender to touch. When lying down, or when you push against it, the bulge may even flatten.
Patients may feel increased levels of pain when they lift heavy objects, strain during bowel movements or urination, or sit and stand for prolonged periods.
If the intestine bulges through the abdominal wall and is trapped, then the person might experience severe abdominal pain. The strangled portion of the intestine begins dying as it loses blood supply. This situation requires emergency care.
Your medical and surgical history is first reviewed by the doctor before a physical examination of the abdominal area is performed. Thereafter, imaging tests are done including ultrasound, MRI or Magnetic Resonance Imaging and a CT or Computed Tomography Scan.
Repair of ventral hernia
Surgical intervention is the only treatment available for ventral herniation because the malformation does not resolve on its own. It can get worse over time. Patients may also experience serious complications when ventral hernias are left untreated for prolonged periods.
What happens during the surgery?
The hole in the abdominal wall is repaired and the muscles are brought back into position. Additionally, the shape of the abdomen along with its tone is restored.
At SIMS Hospital, we primarily perform laparoscopic and open hernia repairs.
About 7 sites are marked for small incisions to be made away from the area where the hernia is present. A laparoscope is inserted through one of the openings and a guided surgery is performed where a mesh material is placed to stabilize and strengthen the weak area. Since only small-sized incisions are involved, the surgery comes with lower risks of infection and better healing rates.
Open hernia repair:
The intestine and abdominal tissue are pushed back into place when a single large open incision is made in the abdomen in the herniated area. This type of surgery has reduced recurrences and quick skin closure due to dissolvable stitches.
At SIMS Hospital, Nungambakkam
Before operating upon you, our doctors will consider several factors such as your age, existing health problems, your medical history, size of the ventral hernia, skin required for repair, and presence of infection.
We tailor every ventral hernia repair according to individual situations, requirements, and the expected outcomes.
Treat your ventral hernia repairs, right here at SIMS Hospital, Nungambakkam.