An Epigastric hernia or hernia of the linea alba is seen in the midline, between the umbilicus and the sternum. It must be distinguished from diastasis of the rectus muscle, an entity that does not require surgical treatment, except for aesthetic reasons.
The cause of an epigastric hernia is the weakening of the muscular layers of the anterior abdominal wall due to:
- Previous injury
- Constant coughing
- Massive weight loss
During the early stages of the hernia, the size is usually small, often mimicking a small lipoma. As the hernia progresses in size, several symptoms may arise including local pain, discomfort, nausea and vomiting. As in any type of hernia, strangulation is the most dangerous complication, with potentially disastrous results.
Surgical repair is the only available treatment and the laparoscopic approach represents the mainstay in this type of hernia.