Once baby is fully stabilised and the Doctors are happy with baby’s blood gases, oxygen levels and general progress, baby will undergo surgery to repair the hernia (there is no set timescale for this). The paediatric surgeon will probably have already explained prior to baby’s arrival, of the procedure that will be undertaken, but will explain this again to you prior to the operation.
As far as operations go, this is usually a relatively straightforward procedure, whereby the surgeon makes an incision in baby’s abdomen on the side of the hernia, moves the abdominal contents back to where they should be and repairs the hole in the diaphragm.
Depending upon the size of the hole, the surgeon will decide whether to suture (stitch) the hole up or to attach a patch to repair the hole. The patch is usually made from a material called ‘Gore-tex®.’ He will also be able to ensure that there is no damage to the intestines and correct any problems he finds at the same time.
You will be fully informed after the operation of how it went and if there were any complications. Baby will be returned to NICU and be closely monitored whilst recovering from the operation. It is not uncommon for babies to deteriorate after the operation, so be prepared for an emotional time.
If baby recovers well and his or her condition remains stable, the Doctor’s may decide to move baby from NICU to a surgical unit.
The scar left by the operation will fade as baby grows and in most cases will be only a faint scar in the future.