7 answers

Hernia in 4-Year-old

My 4-year-old daughter just had her well child check today. He doctor said that she has a hernia, and should probably have surgery on it when she's young so it won't cause problems in the future (as an adult.) Just hearing the word surgery made me freak out a bit! My daughter had problems with constipation as a baby, so is this what caused her to have an 'outie' belly button--and the hernia? Or, what could have caused it? What kind of problems would it cause if we don't get the surgery? (I'm picturing the episode of Friends where Joey was on the floor in the fetal position in so much pain because of a hernia!) Is this common in a young child? Has anyone else experienced this with their child? Any information you can give me would be much appreciated!

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My daughter is going in for this exact surgery in June. She has had her hernia since she was born and it never went away. We met with the surgeon yesterday, the surgery takes 20 minutes and recovery time is 2-4 weeks. They said it is a very simple procedure and the hardest part is making sure that they don't do any exercise with their stomach muscles during the first week or two. They give you a cream to put on the hand for the IV and put them under for the surgery as well. My sister had waited until she was an adult and had a lot of pain during her pregnancies, which is why we are doing this while she is still young. Also the surgery gives them an "innie" belly button as well, and there will be a small scar.

My son was born with a hernia in his belly button. They thought it may heal on it own it did not and he had surgery on it when he was 4 years old. His belly button no longer is an outie. It was a very quick surgery they gave him "laughing juice" he drank it and was out of this world giggly and fell asleep so he never even knew he had an iv put in. He was a little sluggish the next day but by the third day he was running around like it never happened. I would get it fixed while your child is younger.

My oldest, now 9, had this as well. It is referred to as a herniated umbillicus. It's common. It's a birth defect, although I think "defect" is kind of a harsh word for it. We were lucky and she grew out of it; her body corrected itself without the need for surgery. In this case, the hernia is the result of the abdominal muscles not "growing together" to form the abdominal wall. If it's serious enough for surgery, and surgery is not done, it can result in a disdended bowls; the intestines can bulge through the "crack" in the abdominal wall. This can become very serious. It may have been the cause of her constipation. My daughter also had serious bouts of constipation; I think it was the result of the hernia.

BUT! Before resulting to surgery, seek a second opinion from a Pediatric Gastrointerologist. Your daughter may be able to grow out of it as mine did.

I had a hernia at 6 months of age, had surgery, and no problems since then. I'd hate to think of intestines popping out into my abdomen just by lifting something!

my daughter had a belly button hernia that she had to have fixed when she was just under 2. It was a easy surgery and she came out feeling so good and was like a different child. Even though they claimed it didn't hurt her, her going from a crying unhappy baby to a happy energentic child, tells me that it did hurt.

My mother had a hernia that she didn't get fixed (even though she was an adult) and her intestines poked through it and ended up almost costing her her life and she spent 3 weeks in the hospital over it.

Not fixing it is not an option, do it now.

My daughter is 2.5 years old and has had her hernia since birth. She too, struggles with constipation. I also have wondered the same, if this is what caused the hernia.. all the straining. I know that it is possible! But could also be the result of genetics or how the cord was cut. They won't do surgery on her until she's at least four. It doesn't seem to cause her any pain though, so that's a plus. I guess for the next year and a half, we'll just watch it and wait.

My daughter is 7. She had an "inguinal hernia" for which she had surgery for. It was general anesthesia.
The Surgeon she saw is a Pediatric surgeon who specializes in this. He says it is not uncommon in children. His own son had a hernia as well.
The team who did the surgery are all pediatric specialists, including the Anesthesiologist... and they know exactly how to handle children.

If you do not get the surgery... then you will need to watch it and worry about it... all the time. Making sure that she does not lift anything heavy.
A "hernia" is a hole... in which the internal organs sticks out of, or falls out of. The hole can vary in size or get bigger or close up on its own. But not commonly. If the hole closes up on its own... what can happen is called "strangulation"... and strangulation means that the internal organs sticking out will get stuck sticking out of that hole and then get "stranguled" and then that portion of the internal organ can get gangrene and cause an emergency and life threatening situation.

Commonly what is sticking out of a hernia (at least for the Inguinal Hernia type), is the intestines or male or female organs. For my daughter's type of hernia, it can be the Ovary that is sticking out... or in boys, the scrotum etc.

Yes, it is wiser to get it operated on. My Daughter's Hernia was done Laproscopically. A small incision. Then sutured up.

Her recovery time, after surgery was for 6 weeks... and during that time she had to have restricted activities... so that they incision and suture does not split open. It has to heal completely and well, post-operation. AND I told her school/Teachers... explicitly. So that they do not push her into activities unknowingly, nor have her lift anything, even her desk chair. Not even jumping rope etc., while she was healing.

My daughter's surgery was 1 hour. Then the child goes into the recovery room. And she could leave when SHE felt better enough to go home, and until then the nurses/Doctor monitored her.

My daughter, handled the whole process and surgery and post-surgery like a Champ. She even told us she is glad her "bump" is gone... and that she doesn't have to be careful of everything she does now.

We were at the hospital from 5:30 in the morning and didn't leave until about 12:30 later that day. A lot of the time is spent waiting and prepping the child.

Just make sure, she is operated on by a Pediatric Surgeon who does this procedure routinely.

There are many different kinds of Hernias. But they can all strangulate and have the potential to. It is not predictable if it strangulates.

If she does not get the surgery... at some point, she may have to have it done anyway... or if it strangulates. Then that will be a super emergency situation. And life threatening.

Make sure, she does not lift anything, nor anything heavy. And pushing and pulling type movements either. This all affects the abdominal wall... where the hernia is.
A Hernia... comes and goes. This is why some people think it goes away. But it does not... unless the hole closes up COMPLETELY and self-resolves. But, by nature, a Hernia recurs... and with more activity or strenuous activity, it may pop out more etc.

Again, our Surgeon's own son had a hernia... but in his son's case... it strangulated. He got a phone call saying his son was in Emergency... because it had strangulated. Luckily, he was operated on and his son survived. Our Surgeon says, that IF a Hernia strangulates.... (and gangrene can set in), that there is about 1 hour... in which the then emergency surgery has to be done by.

I would, thoughtfully consider the surgery. We do not regret at all... that we had our daughter's surgery. AND she is glad she had it done too.
After my Daughter's surgery, she could go back to school in about 4 days... and per her comfort level. She did not require any pain meds after the surgery. The Doc only suggested Motrin, if need be.

All the best,
Susan

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