A hernia is described as a protrusion of part of the intestine or another organ through a weakened area and surrounding tissues or muscular tissues. When it comes to infants, hernias may develop due to weakened areas of muscle or tissues caused by incomplete development during the growth of the fetus. Two of the most common types of hernias in infants are inguinal and umbilical hernias.
Hernias in Children
Umbilical hernias are most typically caused by a weakness in the wall of the abdomen near the bellybutton or navel. This weakness often allows a portion of the intestine to protrude. In most cases, weakness is caused by the failure of abdominal muscles in that area to form completely. In most cases, and umbilical hernia may heal on its own within a few years, and are most commonly treated for cosmetic reasons, but only after the child has reached four years of age.
Inguinal hernias are more prevalent in boys than girls. The majority of hernias in children are classified as inguinal hernias. The prevalence among boys is due to weakness in the inguinal canal in the groin, which is the passageway through which the testicle descends into the scrotum. A bulge in the groin area is the most common sign of an inguinal hernia, and is more serious than an umbilical hernia because it can cause twisting or constriction of a portion of intestine, which may lead to a blockage or alternately, tissue death.
Inguinal Hernia Surgery
In most cases, a doctor or pediatrician will determine the presence of an inguinal hernia. An inguinal hernia may be repaired through open surgery, during which a small incision is made and the herniated tissue is pushed back into its proper position and stitched. In some cases, a patch of synthetic material may be placed over the gap in the inguinal or abdominal wall in order to provide a type of scaffolding over which the scar tissue is allowed to grow. This will help strengthen the weakened muscle tissues.
The most common approach to inguinal hernia repair is through laparoscopic surgery, a technique where the surgeon makes three very small incisions in the abdomen. The abdominal cavity is then inflated with carbon dioxide to provide a better viewing area. Laparoscopic tools, including a small video camera, enable to surgeon to view the area on a monitor in the surgical suite. The distended intestinal section or organ is pushed back into place and a patch is stapled over the incision or opening through which the hernia protruded.
If an umbilical hernia does need to be surgically repaired, an incision is made beneath the bellybutton, and may sometimes extend through the peritoneum in order to open a cavity.
The hernia is located and return to the abdominal cavity and the opening closed. A piece of abdominal muscle will then be pulled over the defect. If needed, the opening is also covered with a mesh type substance for additional support. Then, the incision is closed over the mesh.
How Much does Pediatric Inguinal Surgery Cost?
The cost of inguinal surgery depends on the geographical location where the surgery takes place. The average cost of open hernia surgery averages between $4,200 and $6,200, before insurance. Cost for repair of an umbilical hernia through laparoscopic or open surgery may cost between $4,000 and $11,000, although locations throughout Southeast Asia, Mexico and Latin America offer approximately 50% savings on the cost of such procedures.
Who Performs Pediatric Hernia Repair?
A pediatrician, position, or surgeon performing any type of hernia surgery should be board certified under medical specialties and have ample experience with repair of numerous types of hernia. This goes for surgeons specializing in laparoscopic procedures or those who specialize in hernia repair.
Pediatrics is a field of medicine that specifically focuses on children. This age group ranges from infants to 18 years old and involves the study, treatment and surgical procedures performed on children. A physician who treats children is called a pediatrician while a specialist performing surgery on children in any field may be called a pediatric surgeon.