Children, as well as adults, experience hernias. Most often a pediatric hernia is the result of an abdominal wall defect that is present at birth and forms in the groin area or the umbilical area; premature, preterm and underweight babies are more prone to experience a hernia. Diagnosing a pediatric hernia may sometimes present a challenge due to the size of the hernia and the inability of very young children to communicate the cause of their distress.
Inguinal, femoral and umbilical hernias are the most common pediatric hernias and surgery is the remedy that is recommended most often. The rate of complications with repair of hernias in infants and children is very low, especially for surgeons who specialize in pediatric surgery. Dr. Rodney Steiner of the Tulane Hernia Center is a specialist in the diagnosis and repair of the full spectrum of pediatric hernias. All pediatric hernia repair procedures are performed in a safe and fully staffed hospital setting under the appropriate choice of anesthesia delivered by a board-certified anesthesiologist.
Pediatric inguinal hernias are usually identified by a small mass that appears in the groin area. The mass may sometimes vary in its shape and size, making identification of the hernia difficult (especially in the case of very young children because of the relative amount of fatty tissue in the groin area). Premature, preterm and underweight babies have a higher incidence of inguinal hernias and are more likely to experience a bilateral hernia. Surgery is recommended for all pediatric inguinal hernias.
The femoral canal is where the femoral artery, vein, and nerve leave the abdominal cavity to enter the thigh. Although normally a tight space, it sometimes becomes large enough to allow abdominal contents (usually intestine) to be pushed into the canal. A pediatric femoral hernia will most often appear as a mass that can be felt when the child is crying and is sometimes difficult to distinguish from an inguinal hernia. Surgery for pediatric femoral hernias is recommended and is performed when there are no contraindications to surgery.
Umbilical hernias occur when there is a weakness in the umbilical ring, the area where the umbilical cord entered the fetus. Often, as the child grows, the surrounding muscles grow stronger and pull together in the midline, reducing the force on the edges of the umbilical ring and gradually closing the herniated area. If the defective area remains 1 – 2 centimeters in size when the child is 2 – 4 years of age it will not close by itself and surgery is usually recommended.
Tulane Hernia Center, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-988-1950 firstname.lastname@example.org