A ventral hernia is sometimes referred to as an “incisional” hernia, meaning it forms at the site of a past surgical incision. This is true, but can be misleading since there are many other factors involved in why a ventral hernia occurs.
The fundamental cause of a ventral hernia is a weakened abdominal wall where a bulge of tissues is able to push through, and it can happen anywhere in the abdomen
Here is some helpful information about the signs, risk factors, and seriousness of a ventral hernia.
Who Is Likely To Develop A Ventral Hernia
We have already touched on one of the risk factors for a ventral hernia, namely, a prior surgery in the abdomen. 30% of ventral hernias are a result of the incisions from a previous surgery. Sometimes patients will go back to normal activities too soon after an abdominal surgery and tear open stitches or cause an infection resulting in a ventral hernia.
In addition, a ventral hernia can be related to a congenital condition of a weak abdominal wall. Other such risk factors include:
- Personal or family history of hernia
- Chronic coughing
- Chronic stress
- Infection from a previous surgery
- Injury to the bowels
- Frequent lifting or pushing heavy objects
Symptoms Of A Ventral Hernia
Unfortunately you may or may not have any noticeable symptoms at first. The most common sign is a bulge in the abdomen especially near the navel. It may be tender to the touch or be quite painful. Those with a ventral hernia may experience pain when lifting heavy objects or even from simply standing up.
Serious symptoms include vomiting and nausea, a high fever, and constipation.
How Serious Is A Ventral Hernia?
Ventral hernias can be mild to severe. In some cases you can push the bulge back into place temporarily and the cavity will close naturally. They can range in size from small to gigantic, with a large ventral hernia considered to be 15 cm in length and width. Once it reaches a certain size, it becomes more problematic to separate it from other organs during surgical treatment.
The most serious type is known as a strangulated ventral hernia, where the intestinal tissue gets caught too tightly in the opening and cannot be pushed back into the abdominal cavity. When this occurs, blood flow is blocked and emergency surgery is required.
See Your Doctor in Reston VA
Schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible if you experience an abdominal bulge or any of the the other above symptoms. A diagnosis is needed to determine if it is a mild case or if surgical intervention is needed.
Contact Dr. Brett Sachse at Surgical Consultants of Northern Virginia for more information and treatment options for a ventral hernia.