A ventral hernia occurs when the abdominal tissue or organs protrude through a weakened area in the abdominal wall, forming a bulge or swelling that can be painful and uncomfortable. Ventral hernia repair is a surgical procedure to repair a hernia that occurs in the abdominal wall, usually at the site of a weakness in the muscles of the abdominal wall.
Ventral hernias can be diagnosed through a physical exam, ultrasound, or CT scan.
The symptoms of a ventral hernia can vary depending on the size and location of the hernia. In some cases, a ventral hernia may not cause any noticeable symptoms and may only be detected during a routine physical exam or medical imaging test. However, some common symptoms of a ventral hernia may include:
A bulge or Swelling in the Abdomen: This may appear as a lump or bulge in the abdominal area, especially when standing up, coughing, or straining.
Pain or Discomfort: You may experience pain or discomfort in the abdominal area, especially when lifting heavy objects or performing physical activity.
Nausea or Vomiting: You may experience nausea or vomiting, especially if the hernia is causing a blockage in the digestive system.
Constipation or Difficulty Passing Stool: You may experience constipation or difficulty passing stool, especially if the hernia is causing a blockage in the bowel.
Fatigue or Weakness: You may experience fatigue or weakness, especially if the hernia is causing a loss of nutrients or blood supply to the body.
It’s important to note that not everyone with a ventral hernia will experience symptoms, and some hernias may be small enough to not cause any problems.
Ventral hernias can be caused by a variety of factors that weaken the muscles and tissues of the abdominal wall, allowing organs or tissues to protrude through the weakened area. Some common causes of ventral hernias include:
Previous Abdominal Surgery: The scar tissue from previous surgical incisions can weaken the abdominal wall and increase the risk of developing a hernia.
Obesity: Excess body weight and fat can put pressure on the abdominal muscles, leading to a hernia.
Pregnancy: The increased pressure on the abdominal muscles during pregnancy can lead to a hernia, especially if the woman has had a cesarean section.
Straining During Bowel Movements: Chronic constipation or straining during bowel movements can weaken the abdominal muscles and increase the risk of developing a hernia.
Chronic Coughing or Sneezing: Chronic coughing or sneezing, such as with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), can put pressure on the abdominal muscles and increase the risk of developing a hernia.
Heavy Lifting: Regularly lifting heavy objects can strain the abdominal muscles and increase the risk of developing a hernia.
Genetics: Some people may be more prone to developing hernias due to a genetic predisposition.
It’s important to note that not everyone who experiences these risk factors will develop a ventral hernia, and hernias can occur without any known cause.
The treatment options for ventral hernias depend on several factors, including the size and location of the hernia, the severity of symptoms, and the patient’s overall health and medical history. In some cases, a small ventral hernia may not require treatment and can be monitored over time for any changes or complications.
However, larger or symptomatic ventral hernias may require treatment, and some common treatment options include:
If the ventral hernia is small and not causing any symptoms, the healthcare provider may recommend watchful waiting, which involves monitoring the hernia over time for any changes or complications.
Lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, avoiding heavy lifting, and practicing good posture, can help reduce the risk of developing or worsening a ventral hernia.
A hernia support garment, such as a truss or binder, may be recommended to help support the abdominal muscles and reduce the risk of the hernia worsening.
Surgery is the most common treatment option for ventral hernias, especially if the hernia is large or causing significant symptoms. The surgery may involve open surgery, laparoscopic surgery, or robotic surgery, and may involve repairing the hernia with stitches, mesh, or a combination of both.
There are several surgical options available for ventral hernia repair, including:
Open Surgery: In this procedure, a single incision is made in the abdominal wall to access the hernia. The surgeon then repairs the hernia by stitching the weakened muscle or tissue back together, or by using a synthetic mesh to reinforce the weakened area.
Laparoscopic Surgery: In this minimally invasive procedure, several small incisions are made in the abdominal wall, and a laparoscope (a small camera) and surgical instruments are inserted to repair the hernia. The surgeon then repairs the hernia using either sutures or a mesh, and the incisions are closed with stitches.
Robotic Surgery: This is a minimally invasive procedure that uses a robotic system to perform the surgery. The surgeon sits at a console and controls the robotic arms to repair the hernia using small incisions in the abdominal wall.
Component Separation Technique: This is a complex surgical technique that involves separating the layers of the abdominal muscles to create more tissue to close the hernia. The separated muscle layers are then stitched back together to reinforce the weakened area.