An umbilical hernia is a mass that protrudes through a weakened abdominal wall in your belly button.
Umbilical hernias are common in babies but can also occur in adults where the layers of their abdominal wall don't completely join.
Paraumbilical hernias is an area of weakness around your belly button. These hernias are more common in adults.
Umbilical hernias in babies occur when the muscle that the umbilical cord passes through doesn't close properly after birth.
In adults, an umbilical hernia occurs when weakened abdominal walls are combined with one or more of the following contributing factors:
- Multiple pregnancies.
- A heavy cough.
- Surgery of the abdomen.
- Straining caused by constipation.
- Heavy lifting.
Umbilical hernias rarely cause pain or discomfort with the only sign being a protruding bulge near the belly button. In babies, hernias will often cure themselves as the baby grows, and won't require treatment.
Adults are more likely to experience pain or discomfort around the navel area.
An umbilical/paraumbilical hernia is initially diagnosed from a physical exam followed by an X-ray or ultrasound of the abdomen to determine the severity of the hernia.
Umbilical hernias in babies do not generally require treatment and often repair themselves. If a hernia has not corrected by the time a child is four-years-old, surgery may be necessary.
Adults can push their hernia back in through the abdominal wall, but if it causes persistent pain or discomfort, or it's been there for longer than two years, surgery may be required. If an umbilical hernia becomes strangulated or incarcerated, this is a life-threatening condition and urgent medical attention is required.
Laparoscopic surgery is a minimally invasive procedure where the surgeon makes a small incision near the bulge. The mass is manipulated back into place through the abdominal wall, and the wound is secured. Synthetic or biological mesh may be used to reinforce the abdominal wall and prevent future occurrences.