Complications Of Hernias
When a hernia becomes more painful and cannot be pushed back it is said to be irreducible or incarcerated (stuck). This may mean that surgery may be required urgently because of the symptoms of pain or the risk of progression to other complications. The usual advice is to lie down and gently manipulate the hernia back onto place but if this doesn’t work, medical advice is essential.
If an incarcerated hernia cannot be pushed back, there is a chance that the swelling and pressure developing within it can prevent blood getting into whatever is stuck in it (usually natural fatty tissue or bowel). This is known as strangulation and untreated the bowel can die off leading to a very serious situation. The affected bowel can release toxins causing serious infections and emergency life-saving surgery may be required.
At the very least the section of bowel has to be removed and this may require major surgery through the abdominal wall. Surgery in these circumstances is associated with a much higher risk of complications.
If an existing hernia becomes tense, tender, cannot be pushed back in (irreducible) or the overlying skin becomes red, this means that it is beginning to strangulate and medical advice is essential.
Sometimes a piece of small intestine is caught in a hernia and the bowel content cannot get through. This leads to back pressure with symptoms including abdominal pain, bloating and nausea or vomiting. If the hernia cannot be gently pushed back without damage, urgent surgery may be required to unblock the bowel and repair the hernia.
Again, the risks of surgery in this situation are much greater.