What Is an Epigastric Hernia?
An epigastric hernia occurs in the middle of the upper abdomen between the breastbone and the umbilicus.¬† It usually consists of fat and seldom contains abdominal organs, as in other types of hernia.¬† An epigastric hernia develops as a result of weakness in the muscles of the upper abdomen, and is caused by increased pressure on the abdomen due to straining and lifting.¬† It is more common in men between 20 and 50, than in women, but can be present at birth.¬† There is a risk that a hernia becomes strangulated, cutting its supply of blood and causing gangrene and peritonitis.¬† If left untreated, it is likely to grow and may cause bowel obstruction.¬† In general, healthcare professionals will recommend an epigastric hernia repair operation.¬†
Epigastric Hernia Repair: Surgical Procedure
Epigastric hernia repair surgery is performed under local anesthesia with sedation, and an overnight stay in the hospital is not required.¬† The operation involves making a 10cm cut in the groin and pushing the protruding tissue back inside the abdomen.¬† The gap is stitched closed, and a plug or mesh may be inserted to reinforce the abdomen wall.¬† Epigastric hernia repair can be performed as ‚Äúopen‚ÄĚ surgery, as described, or as ‚Äúkeyhole‚ÄĚ surgery, in which a flexible telescope (a laparoscope) is inserted near the umbilicus (belly button).¬†¬† While keyhole epigastric hernia surgery leads to faster recovery, there is a higher risk of damage to adjacent organs.¬†
Epigastric Hernia Repair:¬† Post-Surgical Healthcare
Prior to leaving the hospital, healthcare professionals will advise on bathing and the care of stitches.¬† Painkillers are provided and arrangements made for a follow-up appointment six weeks ahead.¬† Healthcare advice also recommends the patient avoid lifting heavy weights.¬† Generally, it takes a few weeks to get back to normal activities.¬† To avoid constipation and the discomfort caused by straining, diet alterations are also recommended.