Although many have heard mention of hernias, not many people know much about them. Since these conditions often persist without symptoms for months or even years, individuals frequently do not even realize that they have one. A hernia is an opening in tissue or muscle that allows organs to bulge through, often when intestines break through the abdominal wall. In fact, hernias most frequently occur in the stomach region between the hips and chest, but you may find yourself diagnosed with a hernia in the groin area or near your upper thighs as well. While most are not fatal, some hernias require surgery to avoid dangerous health problems, and certain types of hernias are more prone to complications than others.
Despite the differences among hernias and hernia sufferers, one thing remains constant: doctors and medical professionals have a duty to thoroughly examine patients, run the appropriate tests and read them correctly, diagnose hernias in a timely manner, and take appropriate measures to prevent further medical issues that may result from these conditions. Still more, surgeons are responsible for performing hernia repair surgery in the best manner possible, avoiding surgical mistakes and negligent practices that may lead to complications from hernia surgery. It is then incumbent upon healthcare providers to ensure that patients receive thorough and accurate postoperative instructions and are completely informed of the risks before consenting to the procedure in the first place. Failure to complete any of these critical steps in the process may constitute medical negligence, providing those injured with grounds to sue for just compensation. If you have questions about hernia-related malpractice, speaking with a knowledgeable New Jersey Medical Malpractice Attorney can empower you with the information you need to assert your rights. Call Fronzuto Law Group today to learn more. Free consultations are available anytime at (973)-435-4551.
Types of Hernias
There are several distinct types of hernias, categorized by the location and body parts involved. The most common, inguinal hernias, are holes in the lower abdominals, specifically the inguinal canal (located in the groin), that allows the intestines to bulge through. While mostly men experience this type of hernia, women can in certain cases as well. More common in older adults, the hiatal hernia is a protrusion of the stomach into the chest. Parts of the stomach cross the diaphragm, the muscle critical to breathing, which separates the chest from the abdominal organs. This type of hernia usually causes gastroesophageal reflux, when the acids in the stomach regurgitate into the throat and mouth, resulting in a burning sensation often referred to as heartburn.
Another type of hernia, called the umbilical hernia for whom and where it appears, mostly affects babies and children when the intestines burst through the abdominal wall near the belly button. Fortunately, this form of hernia may resolve within several years on its own. Rarely, surgery may be required to correct an umbilical hernia. In adults, the condition results from obesity, pregnancy, or excess abdominal fluid. Finally, the ventral hernia involves tissues penetrating the abdomen muscles. Although these hernias are due to pregnancy, obesity, and strain in the majority of cases, they can also develop at a surgical incision site. For instance, women may experience hernias after C-section delivery, which requires a surgical incision through the abdominal area and uterus to successfully remove the baby from the womb.
Hernia Causes and Risk Factors
Hernias are often caused by strain, but muscle weakness also contributes to the condition, which may happen suddenly or over time. Muscle weakness may be congenital or caused by surgery, heavy weightlifting, intense exercise, or too much fluid in the stomach. The greatest risk factors for hernia, however, are family history, older age, pregnancy, cystic fibrosis, premature birth, and lifestyle conditions, such as obesity and smoking, which may result in chronic coughing and habitual constipation.
Symptoms and Diagnosis of Hernias
Hernias may not be painful, thus, they often go unnoticed. The majority of people with hernias first discover them by a bulge in the stomach, thigh, or groin area, which may or may not be uncomfortable. The bulge or lump may disappear when lying down but reappear when standing up, bending over, or coughing. However, some hernia symptoms are more severe, like heartburn, chest pain, or having trouble swallowing. In some cases, there are no symptoms at all.
When a hernia exists, a person may discover it on their own or the doctor may discover it while physically examining the abdominals or groin for lumps, while the patient performs a variety of activities, and by taking a medical history of symptoms, family history, and lifestyle. The physician may also order tests, including ultrasounds, gastroenterological dye x-rays, endoscopy, CT and MRI scans, which create images of the affected area. After detecting the hernia, a doctor may recommend monitoring or surgery.
How are Hernias Treated?
Hernias do not typically heal on their own. They may need to be treated, regardless of the presence of symptoms or lack thereof, as they may lead to complications and even fatalities. Nausea, vomiting, fever, or sudden pain require an emergency visit to a healthcare facility and subsequent surgery. Aside from emergencies, however, your doctor might recommend surgery after reviewing your scans if you are having pain or the hernia is growing larger. Hernia surgery entails pushing the protruding tissues back and sewing up the hole or sometimes, inserting a surgical mesh to support the weakened tissues surrounding the affected area. Depending on the location and severity, the repair may be made in open surgery or laparoscopic surgery (less invasive) using a miniaturized camera and surgical tools. It is important to note that hernia surgery comes with its own risks, such as infection, blood clots and nerve damage. A patient may also experience lingering pain. Worse yet, a hernia can recur.
When surgery is not required, your doctor may monitor you, fit you for a truss to support the affected area, or recommend antacids available at a pharmacy or drug store. They may also recommend a dietary change such as eating more fiber, avoiding spicy food, or staying away from highly acidic foods. Other recommendations for hernias include changing certain exercises, weight loss, and quitting smoking. The problem with merely monitoring, however, is the risk of complications. Untreated hernias may grow and affect nearby tissues, leading to pain and swelling. Additionally, intestines can become stuck in the abdominal wall and obstruct the bowel, resulting in constipation, pain, and nausea. Strangulated intestines can cause infection or death of the intestines, a potentially life-threatening condition. When the bulge turns red or purple, is extremely painful, and vomiting, fever, or nausea with constipation occurs, individuals likely need emergency treatment.
Can I File a Lawsuit for Hernia Malpractice in New Jersey?
If complications occurred because medical providers missed or delayed diagnosing your hernia, failed to carefully monitor your condition, improperly performed surgery, implanted the incorrect mesh, or failed to prevent and treat post-surgical infection, members of the healthcare team and the facility itself may be liable for medical malpractice. Victims of hernia-related negligence may suffer from intestinal injuries during surgery, nerve entrapment, bowel obstruction, or obstructed intestines. When these unconscionable scenarios occur, providers who negligently cause these injuries may be held responsible for economic and other losses. You may be unsure as to whether errors involving your hernia were the source of your further complications. Fortunately, a medical malpractice lawyer experienced in hernia malpractice can review your case and consult with leading medical experts to prove that your doctor or other providers fell below the accepted standard of medical care. At Fronzuto Law Group, this is what we do. If you need a free case review, contact us at (973)-435-4551 today.