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Umbilical Hernia Repair in Children
An umbilical hernia repair
is surgery to fix your child's umbilical (belly button) hernia. An umbilical hernia may be repaired if the hernia is preventing blood flow to your child's organs, blocking his intestines, or has failed to close. Surgery is usually an open repair where one small incision is made to fix your child's hernia with stitches.
How to prepare your child for an umbilical hernia repair:
Your healthcare provider will talk to you about how to prepare your child for surgery. He may tell you not to let him eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of his surgery. He may instead tell you that he can have clear liquids until 2 hours before his surgery. You may breastfeed your child up to 4 hours before surgery. He will tell you what medicines your child should or should not take on the day of his surgery. Your child may be given an antibiotic through his IV to help prevent a bacterial infection.
What will happen during an umbilical hernia repair:
Your child will be given general anesthesia to keep him asleep and free from pain during surgery. Your child's healthcare provider will make one small incision near his hernia. Tools are used to remove the hernia sac that may contain your child's intestines or abdominal tissue. Next, your healthcare provider will move your child's intestines or tissue back into their correct place. Strong stitches are used to close the opening in your child's abdominal wall. This may prevent your child's intestines and tissues from bulging through his belly button again. Your child's healthcare provider may close the incision in his skin with stitches, medical glue, or strips of medical tape. He may also place a small pressure bandage over the incision.
What will happen after an umbilical hernia repair:
Healthcare providers will monitor your child until he is awake. He may be able to go home when his pain is controlled and he can drink liquids.
Risks of an umbilical hernia repair:
Your child's intestine may be injured during the surgery. He may bleed more than expected or get an infection. A pocket of fluid may form under your child's skin. This may heal on its own or he may need treatment to remove it. Your child's umbilical hernia may return, or he may develop a hernia in a different location.
Call 911 for any of the following:
- Your child has trouble breathing.
Seek care immediately if:
- Blood soaks through your child's bandage.
- Your child's abdomen feels hard and looks bigger than usual.
- Your child's bowel movements are black, bloody, or look like tar.
Contact your child's healthcare provider if:
- Your child has a fever above 101°F.
- Your child develops a skin rash, hives, or itching.
- Your child's incision is swollen, red, or draining pus or fluid.
- Your child has nausea or is vomiting.
- Your child cannot have a bowel movement.
- Your child seems like he is still in pain or continues to cry after he takes his pain medicine.
- You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.
Your child may need any of the following:
- Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your child's healthcare provider how to give him this medicine safely.
- Ibuprofen or acetaminophen may be given to decrease your child's pain and fever. They can be bought without a doctor's order. Ask how much medicine is safe to give your child, and how often to give it.
- Do not give aspirin to children under 18 years of age. Your child could develop Reye syndrome if he takes aspirin. Reye syndrome can cause life-threatening brain and liver damage. Check your child's medicine labels for aspirin, salicylates, or oil of wintergreen.
- Give your child's medicine as directed. Contact your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him or her if your child is allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs your child takes. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list or the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Care for your child's wound as directed:
Ask when your child can bathe. Keep the wound area dry and put on new, clean bandages as directed. Change your child's bandages when they get wet or dirty. If your child has strips of medical tape over his incision, allow them to fall off on their own. Do not let your child get in a bathtub, swimming pool, or hot tub until your healthcare provider says it is okay.
Care for your child:
- Feed your child a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Healthy foods may help your child heal faster. Ask if your child needs to be on a special diet.
- Give your child liquids as directed. Liquids may prevent constipation and straining during a bowel movement. This will help prevent pressure on your child's incision, and another hernia from happening. Ask how much liquid your child should drink each day and which liquids are best for him.
- Apply ice on your child's incision for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel. Ice helps prevent tissue damage and decreases swelling and pain.
Do not let your child play sports for 2 to 3 weeks. He may be able to return to daycare or school 2 to 3 days after surgery. Ask your child's healthcare provider when he can return to his normal activities.
Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
Learn more about Umbilical Hernia Repair in Children (Ambulatory Care)
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