A lump in the abdomen is a soft bulge of tissue or a small, local area of swelling in the belly area.
See also: Abdominal mass
Abdominal hernia; Hernia - abdominal; Abdominal wall defects
Most often, a lump in the abdomen is caused by a hernia. An abdominal hernia occurs when there is an area where the muscles are weak, and this allows the internal organs to bulge through the abdominal wall.
A hernia can form where the surgical cut was made. An incisional hernia may not appear until after straining, heavy lifting, or a prolonged period of coughing .
Seek appropriate care for chronic cough or for constipation if you have a hernia. Straining associated with these conditions causes the intestines to protrude further into the hernia.
Call your health care provider if:
Call your doctor if you have a lump in your abdomen that becomes larger, discolored, or painful.
If you have a hernia, call your doctor if you have:
- Abnormal appearance of the hernia
- Pain or tenderness around the hernia
A strangulated hernia, one in which the blood supply is lost to the organs that protrude through the hernia, is very rare, but it is a medical emergency.
What to expect at your health care provider's office:
The doctor will examine you and ask questions about your medical history and symptoms, such as:
- Where is the lump located?
- When did you first notice the lump in your abdomen?
- Is it always there or does it come and go?
- How large is the abdominal lump? Try to measure the diameter (distance across) or compare it to another object (the size of a baseball, for example)
- Does anything make the lump bigger or smaller?
- What other symptoms do you have?
During the physical examination, you may be asked to cough or strain.
Surgery may be needed to correct incisional hernias or umbilical hernias that do not go away by the time the child approaches school age. Emergency surgery is needed in the case of a strangulated hernia.
Seidel HM, Ball JW, Daines JE, Benedict GW. Mosby’s Guide to Physical Examination. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby; 2006.
Chirdan LB, Uba AF, Kidmas AT. Incarcerated umbilical hernia in children. Eur J Pediatr Surg. 2006; 16(1):45-48.
|Review Date: 7/17/2007|
Reviewed By: Robert Hurd, MD, Professor of Endocrinology, Department of Biology, Xavier University, Cincinnati, OH, and physician in the Primary Care Clinic, Cincinnati Veterans Administration Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997-
A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.