Umbilical / Paraumbilical Hernia

Hernias which occur around the umbilicus (belly button) is termed umbilical or paraumbilical hernias.

In Children

Umbilical hernia may be present from birth and are the result of the muscle wall failing to close around the site of the umbilical cord. Umbilical hernias will usually improve spontaneously as the muscle wall strengthens and develops. In fact, 85% of all umbilical hernias will close spontaneously. If the hernia persists beyond the age of 4 or 5 years, they are less likely to improve and may well require surgery.


It is uncommon for umbilical hernias in children to strangulate, and hence it is reasonable to avoid surgery and adopt a wait-and-see policy.

In Adults

In adults, hernias which occur in the area around the umbilicus are termed paraumbilical hernias.
The umbilicus is a natural point of weakness in the abdominal wall. The size of the hole in the abdominal wall is often small. As a result, paraumbilical hernias can become strangulated. For this reason, surgery is usually recommended.

Symptoms and Signs

A palpable lump around the umbilicus, often but not always with a cough impulse.


The diagnosis is usually made based on findings at clinical examination


Usually, the diagnosis is made clinically. Ultrasound, CT and MRI may be helpful but are not usually necessary.


Surgical repair is usually recommended. This is generally performed under general anaesthesia (asleep). If small the hernia is repaired directly with stitches, if larger then the hernia is repaired using a mesh, inserted through a small incision or laparoscopically (keyhole surgery).

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