A hernia is a weakness that results in movement of an organ or structure where it shouldn’t normally exist. Examples include a herniated disk in the back or an inguinal hernia in the groin. In most cases a layer of strong connective tissue or fascia is disrupted, creating the area of weakness. There are many different types of hernias with numerous eponyms. One of the most common kinds is a ventral hernia. A ventral hernia is any hernia in the anterior abdominal wall. An epigastric hernia is ventral hernia in the upper abdomen above the umbilicus. The most common cause is a weakness in the fascia from a prior abdominal surgery. This is called an incisional hernia. This can happen if the musculature and fascial linings don’t heal properly after surgery in malnourished patients or if the wound becomes infected. Other causes of hernias include trauma or congenital hernias that may or may not present in childhood.
The most common symptom of any hernia is a bulge in the area of herniation. Often, at least initially, patients are able to push the bulge back in or “reduce” the hernia. This could be a tiny bulge that is the size of a fingertip or something much more massive and obvious. Many times, these hernias not painful at all or only painful with strenuous movement. If patients notice increasing or constant pain surrounding the hernia, redness of the abdomen, or difficulty passing stool they need to be evaluated as soon as possible. Occasionally, hernias can get stuck which is known as an “incarcerated” hernia. If the herniated tissue or bowel twists off its blood supply this can cause tissue death or necrosis which is known as a strangulated hernia. Patients need emergent surgery for strangulated hernias.
Patients with symptomatic ventral hernias require operative repair. Although some patients find that refraining from strenuous lifting may decrease symptoms, operative repair is the only true treatment. There are two types of treatment for ventral hernia repairs- laparoscopic and open. Laparoscopic treatment is preferred if possible because as a minimally invasive procedure, patients are able to expedite recovery time. Most times a mesh is placed within the abdomen to help reinforce the weakened tissue. An open repair requires a much larger incision and longer recovery time. If patients have extensive scar tissue they often require an open repair to safely treat scar tissue and repair the bowel as needed.
Patients who believe they have a ventral hernia should contact Dr. Jenna Kazil at the Florida Surgical Clinic located in Bradenton, Manatee County, FL. Dr. Kazil is an accomplished general and vascular surgeon in who has a vast array of expertise when it comes to dealing with vascular and general surgical needs. Dr. Kazil is a compassionate double board-certified general and vascular surgeon who takes the time to fully listen to every patient’s concerns. For patients living on the West coast of Florida from Sarasota to Pinellas Park to Sun City Center looking for the best surgical specialist, contact the Florida Surgical Clinic today to schedule an appointment.