Hernias are quite common. A hernia can be defined as the abnormal exit of tissue from where it normally resides. And there are different types of hernias. They include umbilical hernia, inguinal hernia, epigastric hernia, and Spigelian hernia. But today we will only be having a look at Spigelian hernia. A Spigelian hernia is a type of hernia that passes through the Spigelian fascia. This fascia actually separates two layers of abdominal muscles. These two muscles are lateral obliques and also rectus muscles.
Spigelian hernia is sometimes referred to as a lateral ventral hernia. This type is quite different from other types of hernias. And that’s because they do not develop below layers of fat. Instead, they develop between muscles and also fascia. This type of hernia is quite rare. But they occur more in women than men. Once a patient is diagnosed with Spigelian hernia immediate treatment is required. That’s because it could lead to a complication over time. Just to chip this in, it can only be treated with surgery.
Causes of Spigelian Hernias
Spigelian hernia is caused by a weakness in the abdominal wall. If you’re quite conversant with other types you would know that’s one cause of hernias. Due to the weakness in the abdominal wall, there’s a protruding of the tissue or organ. The weakness though can be as a result of different reasons.
Some experience weakness in the abdomen after an injury. Injuries such as trauma as a result of lifting a heavy object. In some cases, it could be as a result of previous surgeries on the abdominal wall. For some, it could be as a result of chronic cough. Cough is known to apply pressure on the abdominal wall muscles. When it happens over a long period of time then the abdomen gets weaker.
Another common cause of weakness is ascites. Ascites is excess fluid in the abdomen. also, childbearing can also cause weakness of the abdominal wall muscles. Childbearing is one of the activities that involve the abdominal muscles a lot. And after delivery, the abdominal wall might get very weak. Thus increasing the chances of Spigelian hernia.
Spigelian hernias are rare. But even at that, they could occur to anyone. One thing though is that some people are at higher risks of having this hernia. Here are some of the risk factors.
- Being overweight
- Frequent straining during bowel movement
- Frequent lifting of heavy objects
- Being pregnant
- Men over 50 years of age
Signs and Symptoms
Most of the hernia types present with similar symptoms. This is why just the symptoms wouldn’t be enough to diagnose a patient. Other tests have to be done. But symptoms remain the guiding point for doctors.
This hernia type does not cause swelling. That’s because they are located between muscle layers. One thing though is that thin people would actually show more signs of swelling.
One common symptom is mild discomfort in the abdominal region. Also, abdominal pain becomes more conspicuous when there’s straining. Like when you’re coughing, lifting heavy objects or during a bowel movement.
Here are some of the symptoms that you have to look out for:
- When there’s a soft swelling in the abdomen
- Pain in the abdomen that’s not related to food or illness
- Constipation or blood in the stool
- Severe abdominal pain when pressure is applied on your abdomen
A Spigelian hernia is mostly associated with a complication. If not treated right on time it could block the bowel. That’s not all it could also block an organ. And this could be life-threatening.
These are some of the symptoms you would notice when a blockage has occurred.
- There’s blood in the stool
- Severe abdominal pain that suddenly occurs
- Vomiting and nausea that comes with pain, and not related to food
- When you have intense stomach pain and no bowel movements
- If you have any of these symptoms then you might need to see a doctor as soon as possible.
- That’s because it could be life-threatening. And it could lead to something even more serious if not operated on immediately. So talk to your doctor as soon as possible.
Treatment and Recovery
The only means of treatment available for this condition is surgery. And there are different types of surgical procedure your doctor might decide to use. The surgery is usually based on the size of the hernia. At the same time, it’s also based on the amount of pain a person experiences.
An open mesh repair can be carried out on a patient. With this method, there’s an incision made in the abdomen. It’s usually near the location of the hernia. What your doctor does is to move the organ or tissue that’s bulging out back to base. Which means it would be moved back to normal position. And then thereafter, the surgeon would fix the hole in the stomach wall.
Also, minimally invasive procedures are used. This procedure is called laparoscopic hernia repair. In this method, the doctor makes a smaller incision in the abdomen of the patient. And uses a thin surgical instrument in repairing the damage. A camera is also used so that the doctor would be able to monitor the movement of the instrument while inside the abdomen.
Both types of surgeries are not serious surgeries. You might have to stay over for the night at the hospital. But that’s it. Recovery time through takes quite some time. It’s usually about three to six weeks when it’s open mesh repair. And with laparoscopic the time is shorter. Within one to two weeks you would be back in shape. This is one reason why many people prefer laparoscopic hernia repair.
Your doctor usually advises that after the surgery you take thing slow. Don’t do strenuous activities that would apply so much pressure on the abdomen. As this could lead to bleeding of the incision site.
If after the operation you notice there’s increased pain, fever, persistent bleeding or vomiting then see your doctor. It could be as a result of an infection that occurred after having surgery for the Spigelian hernia.