Occasionally a loop of intestine gets trapped in the opening of the abdominal wall where the hernia protrudes. This condition is known as a strangulated hernia. It is an ever-present danger if your hernia is of the 'non-reducible' kind ie. a hernia that causes a constant bulge whether you're standing, sitting or lying down). Generally speaking, the bigger the hernia the less likely it will strangulate. Strangulation can lead to the loss of the blood supply to the trapped section of intestine and blockage of digestion. In extreme cases, gangrene could even develop in this area.
Strangulated hernia accounts for about 30 per cent of all cases of intestinal obstruction (a life-threatening condition) among adults, and is the main cause of this emergency in children.
Needless to say, if you do develop a strangulated hernia you will soon become very aware of it. Watch out for the following symptoms:
- Extreme abdominal pain
- Blood in the stool
- Shock - of which the main symptoms are weakness, faintness, pale clammy skin and a racing pulse ·
- Tenderness and heat over the hernia lump.
If you develop any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical help (whether or not you have been diagnosed with a hernia - severe abdominal pain always requires urgent medical advice). Strangulated hernia is treated with repair surgery, although this will probably turn out to be a more complex operation than 'elective' (ie. non-emergency) repair. Other measures, such as antibiotic treatment, will also be necessary. If the contents of the bowel spill into the abdominal cavity during repair surgery, there is a high risk of serious infection.
Page created on February 28th, 2010
Page updated on March 11th, 2010