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Lump in the abdomen
Alternative namesAbdominal hernia; Hernia - abdominal; Abdominal wall defects
DefinitionThis lump is a soft bulge of tissue or a small, localized swelling on the abdomen. See also abdominal mass (a solid block of tissue that can be felt inside the abdomen).
ConsiderationsMost often, a lump in the abdomen is caused by a hernia. An abdominal hernia occurs when there is an area where the muscles are weak, and this allows the internal organs to bulge through the abdominal wall.
Common CausesA common type of hernia is an umbilical hernia (located around the belly button). This is caused by failure of the muscular ring around the navel to close completely. Umbilical hernias are more common in babies with a low birth weight , including premature babies. See also gastroschisis .
Incisions (from a previous surgery, for example) can leave the muscles weak in an area, and a hernia can form at the incision site. Incisional hernias may not appear until after straining, heavy lifting, or a prolonged period of coughing .
Home CareUmbilical hernias usually heal on their own without treatment, most often by the time the child is 4 years old.
Seek appropriate care for chronic coughs or for constipation if you have a hernia. Straining associated with these conditions causes the intestines to protrude further into the hernia.
Call your health care provider if
The medical history will be obtained and a physical examination performed.
Medical history questions documenting your symptom in detail may include:
Surgery may be needed to correct incisional hernias or umbilical hernias that do not resolve by the time the child approaches school age.
Emergency surgery is needed in the case of a strangulated hernia.
After seeing your health care provider, you may want to add a diagnosis related to a lump in your abdomen to your personal medical record.
Update Date: 10/29/2003Jeffrey Everett, M.D., Department of Surgery, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT