Abdominal Wall Defects

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Abdominal Wall Defects



Abdominal wall defects are birth (congenital) defects that allow the stomach or intestines to protrude.


Many unexpected and fascinating events occur during the development of a fetus inside the womb. The stomach and intestines begin development outside the baby's abdomen and only later does the abdominal wall enclose them. Occasionally, either the umbilical opening is too large, or it develops improperly, allowing the bowels or stomach to remain outside or squeeze through the abdominal wall.

Causes and symptoms

There are many causes for birth defects that still remain unclear. Presently, the cause(s) of abdominal wall defects is unknown, and any symptoms the mother may have to indicate that the defects are present in the fetus are nondescript.


At birth, the problem is obvious, because the base of the umbilical cord at the navel will bulge or, in worse cases, contain viscera (internal organs). Before birth, an ultrasound examination may detect the problem. It is always necessary in children with one birth defect to look for others, because birth defects are usually multiple.


Abdominal wall defects are effectively treated with surgical repair. Unless there are accompanying anomalies, the surgical procedure is not overly complicated. The organs are normal, just misplaced. However, if the defect is large, it may be difficult to fit all the viscera into the small abdominal cavity.


If there are no other defects, the prognosis after surgical repair of this condition is relatively good. However, 10% of those with more severe or additional abnormalities die from it. The organs themselves are fully functional; the difficulty lies in fitting them inside the abdomen. The condition is, in fact, a hernia requiring only replacement and strengthening of the passageway through which it occurred. After surgery, increased pressure in the stretched abdomen can compromise the function of the organs inside.


Some, but by no means all, birth defects are preventable by early and attentive prenatal care, good nutrition, supplemental vitamins, diligent avoidance of all unnecessary drugs and chemicals—especially tobacco—and other elements of a healthy lifestyle.



Dunn, J. C., and E. W. Fonkalsrud. "Improved Survival of Infantswith Omphalocele." American Journal of Surgery 173 (April 1997): 284-7.

Key terms

Hernia — Movement of a structure into a place it does not belong.
Umbilical — Referring to the opening in the abdominal wall where the blood vessels from the placenta enter.
Viscera — Any of the body's organs located in the chest or abdomen.
Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Changing profile of abdominal wall defects in japan results of a national survey.
The abdominal wall defect measured 8.0 cm in diameter (Figure 1(b)).
Abdominal wall defects (AWDs) are a complex group of anomalies, and include the common AWDs (gastroschisis and omphalocele) as well as the complex AWDs (body stalk anomaly, abdominoschisis, pentalogy of Cantrell, bladder exstrophy, and cloacal exstrophy).
Creation of the Abdominal Wall Defect. A 5-cm wide x 10cm long, semicircular, full-thickness laparotomy incision was made using surgical steel blade number 23, through the fascia of the midline linea alba and the peritoneum sack immediately below the transversalis fascia.
This included a physical examination for any clinical detectable abdominal wall defects, and the patients were asked to fill out a questionnaire to assess their health-related quality of life (SF-36v2[R]).
Omphalocoele is a congenital, central abdominal wall defect that results in the herniation of the abdominal contents through an umbilical defect with an overlying membrane covering the contents.
They were having abdominal wall defect due to traumatic loss or peritonitis and abdominal wall sepsis/necrosis.
The aims of this work were to evaluate the prevalence of abdominal wall defects in the Polish population, to analyze temporal trends in the prevalence, to identify areas (clusters) of high risk of abdominal wall defects, and to characterize, with respect to epidemiology, children with abdominal wall defects and their mothers in the area defined as a cluster.
A 3-day-old male child weighing 2.8 kg was admitted for repair of an abdominal wall defect [Figure 1].
Gastroschisis is a serious congenital abdominal wall defect in which the intestines extrude through a paraumbilical defect into the amniotic cavity.
A 6x3 cm abdominal wall defect without masses was appreciated upon exam, and a pre-operative CT scan demonstrated a 9x6 cm anterior abdominal wall hernia containing transverse colon without evidence of obstruction or inflammation (Figure 1).
THE mum of a baby boy born with a severe abdominal wall defect has thanked Newcastle nurses and doctors for fighting to keep him alive.