Pediatric hernias are relatively common and can affect children of any age, ranging from birth to adulthood, and are far more common in premature babies. There are several variations of hernias, most of which require surgical intervention to prevent complications.
A hernia occurs when a portion of an organ, such as the intestines or bowel, protrudes through abdominal muscles into a cavity it is not supposed to be in. When the tissue pushes through surrounding muscle, it results in a palpable lump.
Depending on the severity of the hernia, it may cause nothing more than a lump. More severe hernias, if left untreated, can cause strangulation of the bowel, causing death to the tissue and an inability to pass waste. This can be very deadly to your child. If your child has a hernia, consult your pediatrician and pediatric surgical team.
Inguinal Hernia – a hernia that occurs in the groin, most commonly when the intestine enters the scrotum. 80-90% of inguinal hernias occur in the right testicle.
Epigastric Hernia – a hernia that occurs in the upper abdomen above the navel and below the breastbone. These are common at birth.
Umbilical Hernia – a hernia at the belly button. This is common at birth and is the least concerning hernia.
Hiatal Hernia – a hernia that occurs when the top part of the stomach protrudes through the diaphragm.
Hernias can result from improper closure of muscles before or during birth, due to an incision in the abdominal muscle, or due to sports injuries. If you suspect a hernia, consult your pediatrician right away. Some hernias are minor and can be manually corrected, while others require surgical intervention.
What Are the Symptoms of a Hernia?
Hernias are common in children. In fact, they are so common that hernia repair surgery is the most common pediatric surgery.
Common symptoms of hernias include:
- Swelling or a palpable bulge at the hernia site
- A smooth mass that is “squishy” and non-tender
- Pain in the hernia area that is worse upon straining or use of the muscle affected
- Difficulty passing stool or gas
- Persistent crying
It is important to know that most hernias do not cause major problems and some can resolve on their own. However, once an organ or part of the intestine has become strangulated by the surrounding muscle, it is a medical emergency that requires immediate surgical intervention.
How Alaska Pediatric Surgery Can Help
At Alaska Pediatric Surgery, performing surgery on children is our specialty. We can safely perform hernia repair through a number of options. Our pediatric surgical team will work with you and your pediatrician to develop a plan to correct your child’s hernia using the least invasive method. The skilled pediatric surgical team at Alaska Pediatric Surgery has performed hundreds of hernia repair surgeries on Alaskan children and can help you rest assured that your child is in the best hands.
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