What is an abdominal lump?
An abdominal lump is a soft swelling seen in any abdominal region. Abdominal lumps are usually an indicator of an underlying medical condition and they could be surgically removed. Most of the lumps formed in the abdominal region are hernia-induced. An abdominal hernia occurs when structures in the abdominal cavity press hard against a weak point in the wall of the muscles of the abdomen.
Likely factors that give rise to an abdominal lump
– Hernia lumps and non-hernia lumps. Non-hernia lumps are less common.
A hernia has been found to be the cause of most of the abdominal lump presented by patients. They often appear when your abdominal muscles have been strained perhaps when you cough and constipate for a long time. The lifting of heavy objects can also bring about a strain on the abdominal muscles
Different types of hernia exist but only three can produce a noticeable lump. Let us take a look at these.
An inguinal hernia: This kind of a hernia occurs due to the presence of a weakness in the wall of the abdomen that causes a part of the intestine or other soft tissue to bulge out from this weak muscle. When you lift an object, cough or bend, you will experience pains in your lower abdominal region, especially near the groin area.
It is possible for you not to experience the symptoms until the situation worsens. Even when a hernia might not in itself harmful, it is wise to attend to it by surgical means.
Overlooking this can result in poor blood flow to the intestine. Intestinal obstruction can also occur.
An umbilical hernia: it usually manifests around the navel region and it is most common in infants. An umbilical hernia will heal up itself when the wall of the abdomen heals up. You can classically diagnose a baby having an umbilical hernia from his protruding navel when he is crying. Surgery will have to be used to get rid of the lump should it not heal up itself once the infant clocks four.
An incisional hernia: This is surgical-induced. Surgical incision can weaken the abdominal walls and cause intra-abdominal contents to force its way through it. Corrective surgery is needed to prevent whatever complications it might cause.
Non-hernia causes of an abdominal lump;
Lipoma: It is a fatty lump of fat located under the skin. It is a rubbery protrusion that can be the move when pushed. It is a semi-firm, rubbery bulge that makes a slight movement when pushed. Their growth rate is low and they can exist anywhere in the body. They are mild and do not really need a surgical procedure to get rid of them.
Undescended testicle: It is possible that one or both testicles in males fail to descend into the scrotal sac during fetal development. This situation can induce lump formation close to the groin in newly born boys. What should be done in this case to correct it is a surgery coupled with hormonal therapy.
Hematoma: It is a result of ruptured blood vessels. When blood vessels break perhaps due to an injury, they collect beneath the skin to form a hematoma. Abdominal hematoma gives rise to protrusion and skin discoloration. One beautiful thing about hematomas is that they can take care of themselves without you treating them. They can be removed surgically, though.
Tumor: This is usually rare. It can be either cancerous or non-cancerous and they can grow in the abdominal organ, muscles or skin. Its treatment is determined by the tumor type and location.
Photo Credit: Nigeria Galleria
How an abdominal lump can be diagnosed
When you suspect the presence of a lump in your abdomen and you get to see a doctor, an ultrasound or a CT scan will be carried out on you to further investigate the problem. The results obtained when interpreted by the doctor will inform him of which mode of treatment will be most appropriate for you.
If you have a hernia, your doctor will likely be able to diagnose it during the physical exam. Your doctor may want you to undergo an imaging study, such as an ultrasound or CT scan of your abdomen. Imaging helps to know the extent to which the mass has grown as well as its location in the abdomen. Once your doctor confirms an abdominal hernia is present; you can then discuss arrangements for a surgical correction. Sometimes, a biopsy might be needed. A biopsy involves the removal of affected tissues.
When should you seek medical help for an abdominal lump?
You should consider seeking a medical help when you see or feel an unidentifiable lump in your abdomen especially when it is accompanied with nausea and vomiting, fever, intense pains around the lump or even discoloration of the skin around your abdomen.
When you eventually see a doctor, physical examination will be carried out on your abdomen. You might be instructed to strain or even cough as you are examined. You may likely be asked questions to know when the lump was first noticed when the lump changed in location or size and possibly what made it change, symptoms experienced and other investigative questions. As much as you can, be sincere in the answers you give as it will help the doctor help you get the right treatment.