A painless, hard epigastric swelling may be a sign of epigastric hernia or a stomach cancer or a lipoma – a tumor consisting of fatty tissue. We’ll first take a look at epigastric hernias, epigastric hernia surgery and symptoms in this article.

Epigastric hernias

Epigastric hernia is a type of abdominal wall hernias that develops in the epigastrium – the area lying on or over the stomach just between the breastbone and tummy button. Epigastric hernia occurs when the abdominal muscle get weaken causing the tissues of the abdomen to protrude through the muscle. It is typically occurred in infants but can happened also in adults.

Symptoms of epigastric hernia

Common symptom of epigastric hernias is a painless epigastric swelling or bulge. In infants, epigastric swelling can be seen while the sufferer is crying, having a bowel movement, or other activity that gives pressure to the abdomen. In more serious cases of epigastric hernias, a strangulated hernia may occur. Common symptoms of a strangulated hernia include color changes of the swelling area (deep red or purple color), severe pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach swelling.

Epigastric hernia surgery

The purpose of epigastric hernia surgery is to repair the muscle defect (weakening area) and put the hernia sacs back into the right place. If the area of muscle defect is not significant, it can be sutured closed and keep there permanently to prevent the occurrence of epigastric hernia. If the hernia cannot be repaired with this method, the surgeon may enlarge the defect, replace the mass, and repair the opening wit interrupted monfilament sutures on a cutting needle. Surgical repair of hernias is called a Herniorrhaphy.

In most cases, small epigastric hernias is usually not a medical emergency and often can be healed without a hernia surgery. In cases of moderate size, non complex epigastric hernia, surgical repair can be done under local anesthesia as a out patient. The local anesthesia will keep the patient relax, comfortable and pain-free during the short procedure. To manage pain associated with the surgery, a prescription or over-the-counter drug may be given.

Younger patients will need special care and preparation for the surgery. Epigastric hernia surgery for younger patient is usually performed by a pediatric general surgeon or colon-rectal specialist.

In infants, the hernia may disappear without medication as the infant grows and the abdominal muscles become stronger. If this is not the case, then operation can be performed on the infant when the infant is older and stronger enough to tolerate the correction procedure.

Hernia repair operation is recommended for potential ongoing pain or complications because of the existence of this hernia. When there’s a weakening or opening in the muscles or tendons of the epigastrium, the nerves and tissue in the affected area as well as the surrounding tissue may be irritated and extended leading to pain or soreness. It also causes symptoms of soft / hard epigastric swelling - a bulge within the abdominal contents (hernia sacs). When its size grows, it may trap, block or damage the intestine leading to strangulation or incarceration hernia. An incarceration hernia is not life-threatening, however it may become dangerous when it gets strangulated, blocks the blood flow and causes the death of tissue that is affected. If this is the case, an emergency surgery is required.

Complications of epigastric hernia operation

Major complications of epigastric hernia surgery include returning of hernia, wound infection, bleeding, bruising, swelling, numbness, injury to intestine or other intra-abdominal organs. If you have been diagnosed with epigastric hernias, or are questioning if your hard epigastric swelling or other symptoms may be symptoms of epigastric hernia, either way you must identify and address the physical problems that are causing the discomfort with your doctor and take any action accordingly. If your hernia is life-threatening, you should proceed with an epigastric hernia surgery immediately.