Epigastric Hernia Repair, Treatment & Surgery

What is an epigastric hernia?

An epigastric hernia occurs in the upper part of the abdominal wall (epigastrium), caused by fat or the lining of the abdomen breaking through a weakness in the abdominal wall between the umbilicus and the sternum (breastbone). Pain is caused by the fat being ‘pinched’ by the abdominal wall.

Epigastric hernias vary in size, though are typically small, so you may only notice it when lying down or standing up. Epigastric hernias can be present from birth and it is possible to have more than one at a time, with many people unaware that they have a hernia.

Epigastric Hernia Symptoms

Symptoms of an epigastric hernia can include:

  • A distinctive bump on the abdomen, often more noticeable when lying down
  • Pain or tenderness at the area of the abdominal bump

As many people are unaware they have an epigastric hernia, it may only become noticeable during certain actions such as straining, bowel movements or coughing. These symptoms can also come and go.

Epigastric Hernia Surgery

Epigastric hernias do not always require surgery. However they will not get better on their own, and the only treatment is hernia repair surgery.

Epigastric hernia surgery can be performed as open surgery (open epigastric hernia repair) or laparoscopic hernia surgery (minimally invasive).


Laparoscopic Epigastric Hernia Surgery

Performing laparoscopic epigastric hernia repair surgery, A/Prof Pilgrim will return the bulge back to the abdominal cavity, but rather than making a large incision, the surgery will involve multiple smaller incisions. Hollow tubes are placed in the incisions, gas is used to inflate the abdomen to allow greater visibility and space, and surgical tools including a small camera are inserted into the tubes to perform the surgery. As with open epigastric hernia surgery, a combination of stitches and mesh are used to prevent future hernias occurring. However laparoscopic (minimally invasive) hernia repair surgery reduces the risk of infection and means a quicker recovery, and less time spent in hospital.

Open Epigastric Hernia Surgery

Open epigastric hernia surgery involves A/Prof Pilgrim making an incision at the bulge site to  return the bulge back to the abdominal cavity and close the opening with stitches. Sometimes the weakness in the abdominal wall can be closed using just stitches, but larger areas are often enforced with a mesh. Mesh hernia repairs have been able to demonstrate greater results, often allowing patients to return to usual activity sooner, shorter hospital stays, and lower the likelihood of the hernia recurring.

If you would like to know more about epigastric hernia repair options please book an appointment online or call us on (03) 9509 4811 to make an appointment.