hernia occurs when part of the contents of the abdominal
cavity- most often a piece of intestine-protrudes through
the cavity and into the abdominal wall. Normally, the
muscles and tissues that line the cavity keep the organs
inside. Ventral Hernias are most often caused by a defect in
the wall due to
- Symptoms depend on the size of the hernia. Most hernias are noticeable as a protrusion or "pooching-out" in the abdomen. This may be large or small, depending on the size of the hernia.
- Often, hernias do not cause any symptoms. Some may be easily pushed back through the protrusion. These are known as reducible hernias.
- Sometimes, the protruding tissue or material may not be able to be pushed back in. This is called an incarcerated hernia. It may cause pain, nausea, vomiting, or the inability to pass stool.
- Sometimes, the blood supply to the
protrusion is cut off, causing that part of the intestine to
die (necrosis), in what is known as strangulated hernia.
This is a medical emergency. This can be very painful. The
abdomen will be extremely tender. Nausea, vomiting, fever,
chills, and the inability to pass stool are common resulting
- Ventral Hernias occur when the wall of the abdominal cavity becomes weak.
- The weak area is usually the result of surgery, as whenever surgery to this area is performed, an incision in the abdomen wall has to be made and later stitched together. Over time, hernias tend to form in these weakened areas.
- Often, the incision does not heal properly -- as when the area becomes infected after surgery, or if hematoma (blood clot) forms in the incision, or when malnourishment leads to improper healing. Straining after surgery may also open the stitches and result in bleeding, infection, and aneurysm.
- Older people and obese people also
may not heal fully.
- Diagnosis is usually made by the doctor's examination.
- CT scans and Ultrasounds can be very helpful.
- Blood and stool tests may also help
in making the diagnosis.
- If the hernia is small, it may be easily pushed back into place, and no treatment will be necessary.
- Patients may need to wear a supportive belt or waistband.
- If the hernia is large or it cannot be pushed back (incarcerated hernia), then surgery may be performed to close the ruptured area.
- If the hernia is strangulated
(blood supply to the intestine cut off), surgery is
absolutely necessary. This is a medical emergency. The
patient must go to the nearest hospital immediately. Surgery
will be needed to remove the necrotic intestinal tissue, and
the ruptured area will have to be sewn
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