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Epigastric hernia: everything you need to know

Epigastric hernias are common in all ages, but are quite rare.

What causes an epigastric hernia, and how can it be treated?

Hernias, such as an epigastric hernia, can occur due to a weakness in the muscles of your abdominal wall. The NHS states heavy work, coughing, sports, straining and obesity can also play a part in the development of this type of hernia. We explain the symptoms of an epigastric hernia and potential treatment options.

An epigastric hernia is when fat or body tissue protrudes through your abdominal wall, between the sternum of your rib cage and your belly button, causing a bump to occur in the area below your sternum, or breastbone

Epigastric hernias present a number of symptoms. Most significantly, the hernia will cause a swelling or bump in the middle of the chest area (sternum). This bump may or may not be painful, but it can cause nausea and general abdominal pain, particularly around the hernia itself. This nausea is caused by the hernia causing a disturbance to the intestine’s function.

This pain can be a burning or aching sensation, which may progressively get more painful as time goes on and the hernia remain untreated. This pain is caused by the muscles being forced apart abnormally, hence the burning and aching sensation.

The pain and hernia itself can be made worse by chronic conditions such as coughing and straining on the toilet. This is because as your muscles contract, whether it is forcing your abdomen to cough or push out a stool, it pushes in on the gut and strains the muscles further. This can cause more of the hernia to develop and also increase the amount of pain.

An epigastric hernia can be generally treated by surgery, either in open surgery or with key-hole surgery (laparoscopically).

Generally, surgeons prefer key-hole surgery as it is quicker, less invasive, and means you can recover quicker. The time between diagnosis and private hernia surgery is often less than a month, ensuring you receive rapid and world-class treatment.

Laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery 

Our laparoscopic surgery requires a few small incisions around the sternum using a machine controlled by experienced and highly skilled clinicians. You will be placed under general anaesthetic for the procedure.

Using a lightweight, synthetic mesh, our surgeons push the fatty tissue back into its normal place, and push the piece of intestine back into the abdominal cavity, and cover it in a lightweight synthetic mesh which strengthens the abdominal wall, preventing the hernia from popping out again.

This technique is referred to as an umbrella hernia repair. Previous patients who have received this treatment with the mesh have recommended it rather than a manual pulling of the muscles together to heal the weakness, which can be more intrusive.

This less invasive surgery takes 45 minutes from start to finish, and is a day-care case, meaning you can arrive and leave on the day of the surgery.

A consultation with one of our specialist Consultants is often the quickest and simplest way to diagnose and treat your hernia.

They will be able to share the best treatment option for your specific situation. If you would like to get in touch with a specialist, you can call us directly or book your appointment online today.