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About Hernias

What is a Hernia?

A hernia occurs when an organ or tissue bulges through a weak area of muscle that holds it in place. Hernias most commonly occur in the abdomen though can appear in the upper thigh, groin or belly button.

Common Hernia Types

  • Hiatal hernia
  • Ventral hernia
  • Congenital diaphragmatic hernia
  • Incisional hernia
  • Umbilical hernia
  • Femoral hernia

Treatment Options for a Hernia

  • Lifestyle Changes – depending on the size and severity of your hernia, dietary changes and keeping a healthy body weight can treat the symptoms of less severe hernias. If these changes do not eliminate discomfort, surgery may be  necessary.
  • Medication – in the case of hiatal hernias (protrusion of upper stomach through the opening in the diaphragm), over-the-counter and prescription medications can reduce stomach acid and relieve symptoms.
  • Surgery – if the hernia grows larger and/or is causing pain, surgery may be necessary to repair the hernia. At EvergreenHealth Surgical & Vein Care, Monroe, Michael Eickerman, M.D. performs hernia repairs using the following methods:
    • Open surgery – patching the hernia hole with surgical synthetic mesh
    • Laparoscopic surgery – repairing the hernia using a tiny camera and small instruments to insert the surgical mesh with minimal intrusion. However, not all hernia repairs are candidates for laparoscopic surgery repair.

Ventral Hernia Repair

At EvergreenHealth Monroe, Dr. Eickerman specializes in treating large ventral hernias in patients who have experienced previous surgical repairs that have failed and have few remaining options for lasting relief.

What is a Ventral Hernia?

A ventral hernia is one type of abdominal hernia that presents itself as a bulge in the muscles of the abdominal wall. This type of hernia can occur anywhere along the abdomen and may develop following an abdominal procedure or surgery at the incision site if it has not healed properly – these are called incisional hernias. Ventral hernias increase in size over time and appear as a bulge (of tissue) through the abdominal wall muscles. Pain or pressure may be present at the hernia site.

Causes of a Ventral Hernia

Ventral hernias, abdominal wall hernias, can occur:

  • At birth
  • Due to muscle weakness in the abdominal wall
  • At an incision site, such as following an appendectomy that hasn’t properly healed

Ventral Hernia Symptoms

  • Lump/bulge in the abdominal wall
  • Lump/bulge that reduces with pressure or when laying down
  • Skin redness over abdominal lump/bulge
  • Pain or pressure at hernia site/incision site

Serious Symptoms/Complications

Seek immediate medical attention if you have any of the following life-threatening symptoms associated with a ventral or abdominal hernia:

  • Severe abdominal pain
  • High fever (101 degrees F or higher)
  • Inability to have bowel movements or gas
  • Inability to produce urine
  • Increased swelling at hernia site with tight red skin
  • Nausea or vomiting

Ventral Hernia Diagnosis

Ventral hernias are most commonly diagnosed through a physical examination of the bulge/hernia site. Additional diagnostic tests include:

  • Ultrasound of abdomen
  • CT scan
  • MRI
  • Blood test
  • Urinalysis

Ventral Hernia Treatment

Ventral hernias are treated surgically typically once a hernia has become uncomfortable and/or begins increasing in size. Dr. Eickerman offers a more complex surgical repair, known as the Component Separation Technique (CST). This, coupled with the addition of a relatively new biosynthetic mesh called Phasix, has been proven to provide better long-term repair with significantly less likelihood of recurrence. The material was developed in the last four years by engineers at MIT, and Dr. Eickerman was one of the first surgeons in Washington to begin using it in abdominal wall reconstruction, and he is one of the very few surgeons that currently performs CST on the Eastside and in Snohomish County.

“The Phasix material [used in this procedure] is actually absorbed by the body. It stimulates the tissue to form new collagen which creates the fascia necessary for a long-term solution,” Dr. Eickerman says. Though more time is needed for more conclusive studies, Dr. Eickerman has seen just a 5 percent chance of recurrence with the Phasix technique, with very low complication rates.

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