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Epigastric Hernia

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In general, a hernia is an organ or tissue that protrudes through a weak point in surrounding muscle.


There are many different types of hernias that are typically named by the area of the body that is affected, and epigastric hernias are no exception to this nomenclature rule. Epigastric hernias are hernias in which the tissue protrudes through the abdominal wall in the epigastrium, or the upper portion of the abdomen from just below the sternum to just above the navel.

These hernias can vary in severity depending on their exact location and size but they are typically mild. In fact, many people who have epigastric hernias aren’t aware of it.

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What Causes Them?

Since many people are unaware of their epigastric hernias, they often go undiagnosed. This makes it difficult for physicians to know exactly how these hernias develop. Of the reported cases of epigastric hernias, many of them are present at birth. It is believed that while a baby is forming, the abdominal wall doesn’t close fully. This creates a weak point or opening for a hernia to protrude through. Other than cases in which the cause is developmental, there are some things that can exacerbate these hernias. These risk factors include certain types of physical activity, excessive coughing, pregnancy, and obesity.

What Are The Symptoms?

The main symptom of epigastric hernias is feeling or seeing a lump in the epigastrium region. For many people, this is the only symptom that they experience. However, other patients report that the lump is painful or tender to the touch. More severe symptoms are typically only experienced when the hernia grows large enough to interfere with the functionality of surrounding organs.

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How Is It Diagnosed?

Epigastric hernias are diagnosed by a physical examination by a trained physician. They will palpate the lump to determine the size and severity. Then, the physician will order images to be taken with either a CT or MRI scan. These images will help them to eliminate other possible causes or conditions. These images are also important because they will help the physician to determine if the hernia will require an operation. If the hernia is strangulated, or has been cut off from its blood supply, it will likely require surgery. A hernia may also require attention if it is incarcerated, or stuck so that it is out.

What Are The Treatment Options?

If the patient isn’t experiencing any symptoms or the symptoms are mild, the physician may advise the patient to simply avoid certain activities that would exacerbate their symptoms. If it is determined that treatment is necessary, then the only treatment option is surgery. In most cases, the hernia can be repaired with laparoscopic surgery. This is surgery that utilizes a few small incisions and a surgical light. The surgeon will use sutures to fix the hernia back into its correct position. If the hernia is too large for laparoscopic repair, the surgeon may have to perform open surgery and use surgical mesh to fix the hernia into position.

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