A hernia is an out-pouching of an abdominal structure through a gap or weak spot in the wall of the abdomen. A strangulated hernia is a condition wherein some of the abdominal fat or some part of the intestine pushes through a gap or weak spot in the lower abdominal muscles, and gets trapped and has its supply of blood cut off.
A strangulated hernia could be present at birth or may develop due to degeneration of the abdominal muscle. Surgery needs to be done to manage the symptoms associated with the condition.
A hernia may be either irreducible or reducible. Reducible bulges can be pushed back into the abdomen, whilst irreducible hernias cannot. A strangulated hernia involves an irreducible protuberance which gets trapped, constricted or squeezed. Consequently a blockage occurs which cuts off the blood supply to a portion of the intestine, causing it to die.
Left untreated, gangrene, bleeding and septicemia can develop. A strangulated hernia can be life-threatening and you need instant medical attention.
Strangulated Hernia Symptoms
The following are the commonly seen signs and symptoms of a strangulated hernia:
- Fever, which is a defense mechanism of the immune system, occurs in order to avert the spread of infection, and may be present in most cases of strangulated hernia.
- An increased heart rate is another manifesting symptom.
- A small protrusion or bulge is apparent at the place where the intestine has out-pouched through the aperture in the abdominal muscle wall. The protuberance is very painful and tender, and the skin surrounding the bulge is inflamed and red.
- Another presenting feature is severe pain which is known to worsen over a short period of time.
- A host of patients also complain of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation. These symptoms indicate the presence of an infection in the intestine which has spread to other parts of the body too.
If you experience any of these symptoms, you need to seek emergency medical care to ward off life-threatening complications.
How To Diagnose A Strangulated Hernia?
By and large, hernias do not present any immediate problems / complications; nonetheless, they tend to get bigger over time. Neglected and untreated, a hernia can develop into a strangulated hernia. It is very vital for you to consult your doctor and seek treatment to avoid complications.
Almost all hernias are successfully diagnosed through a physical examination. Your health care provider may make an effort to push the hernia back through the abdominal wall, to check whether it is a reducible or an irreducible hernia.
He may order a few investigations such as your blood work as well as an ultrasound to make an accurate diagnosis. Your doctor may also recommend a CT scan; a CT scan provides a more accurate diagnosis of the condition.
How Dangerous Is A Strangulated Hernia?
A hernia can be really dangerous given that the intestines or other abdominal structures can get trapped and have their blood supply cut off. Strangulated hernia is an extremely serious condition, which cannot be neglected at all. Untreated, a strangulated hernia could result in gangrene, excessive bleeding and sepsis and can lead to perforation of the bowel and consequently peritonitis.
Septicemia and toxemia can lead to multi organ failure. Hence, it is very crucial that you confer with your health care provider and seek immediate medical aid.