An umbilical hernia is when part of the abdominal lining or abdominal organs bulge outwards around the belly button (naval) due to a weakness in the muscle wall in or around the belly button. The protrusion can be anything from 1cm – 5cm in diameter and is most common in infants. However, adults can develop umbilical hernias, particularly women during and after pregnancy and men and women who are overweight.
Umbilical hernias in adults usually occur when a childhood weakness re-emerges or a new hernia develops nearby. Although an umbilical hernia is not in itself dangerous, there is a high risk in adults that the intestine will become trapped in the hernia. If the blood flow to the bowel or segment of trapped intestine is cut off, the hernia can cause pain and potentially life-threatening conditions such as gangrene, bowel obstruction or peritonitis.