Do you suspect or have you been told that your child may have a hernia? While the condition does need to be addressed right away, you may be comforted to know that it is not at all uncommon. In fact, hernia repair surgeries are one of the most commonly-performed types of surgery on children.
A hernia occurs when tissue or an organ from inside the body, such as the intestine, pushes through a weak spot in a muscle wall. From the outside, it can look like a bulge or lump.
Hernias in Children
In the case of children, the protruding organ or tissue is sometimes only visible when the area is under strain, such as when the child is straining, coughing, crying, or otherwise exerting a lot of effort. If the hernia only shows up in these situations, it is called “reducible” and usually does not impose any immediate danger for the child (but check with your doctor to be sure).
However, in some cases, the tissue or organ can become trapped in the opening in the muscle wall. This is called an “incarcerated” hernia and does require immediate attention from a doctor. A “strangulated” hernia is even more serious and occurs when blood supply is cut off from the protruding tissue.
Hernia Surgery for Children – 7 Things You Should Know
If you believe your child may need surgery to repair a hernia, here are 7 things you should know:
1. For an incarcerated hernia, the doctor can gently squeeze the tissue back into the body cavity: If this type of hernia is discovered, the doctor can perform a temporary measure – usually with pain medication – to push the tissue back into the body.
2. Surgery is recommended within a few days for an incarcerated hernia: Once the doctor performs this temporary fix, surgery is required to permanently fix the spot.
3. Surgery is recommended immediately for a strangulated hernia: In the case of a strangulated hernia, surgery is required right away in order to save the tissue from dying due to lack of oxygen.
4. During surgery, the tissue is pushed back into the body and the muscle wall is closed: During hernia surgery, the tissue is pushed back inside and the wall is fortified with a mesh-like material.
5. Kids of all ages can undergo hernia surgery: A child of any age – including infants – can safely undergo hernia surgery.
6. Surgery is performed on a outpatient basis: Patients do not need to stay overnight at the hospital in most cases.
7. Most kids can go back to normal activity within 7 days: The child can resume normal activity in short order after surgery.
Familiarize yourself with these 7 things you should know regarding hernia surgery for children.