Incisional hernia : A guide to Hernias

This type of hernia occurs after abdominal surgery. Tissue or part of an internal organ, e.g. the intestine, pushes through a partially healed surgical incision.

If you have undergone any form of abdominal surgery but developed an infection in the surgical wound following surgery then you are at risk of developing this type of hernia. It can also develop in people who have a poorly healed surgical scar.

This occurs months or even years following surgery and is more common in adults than children.

What types of abdominal surgery cause an incisional hernia?

Vascular surgeries, bowel surgeries, appendectomies and laparoscopies are likely to result in an incisional hernia. However, practically any type of abdominal surgery can cause this type of hernia, which is due to the type of incision made during surgery.

Symptoms of an incisional hernia

The main symptom is that of a protrusion in the abdominal area which is normally painless except during physical activity or movement, e.g. bending forward.

Complications of an incisional hernia

A reducible hernia can be pushed back into place but if not then there is the risk of the hernia becoming squeezed outside of the abdominal wall. This is known as a strangulated hernia and will cause serious symptoms such as vomiting, pain and constipation.

If you develop any of these then seek medical attention immediately. Surgery will be required to relieve the pressure and ensure that there is a blood supply to the intestines.

Diagnosis of an incisional hernia

If you suspect that you have developed this or any other type of hernia then visit your GP. He or she will ask you about your medical history, which will include any previous abdominal surgery.

He/she will examine you and refer you for surgery.

Treatment for an incisional hernia

Surgery is the usual form of treatment as this type of hernia can lead to complications such as a strangulated hernia if left untreated.

This hernia varies in size so treatment will either be:

  • Open surgery using a special mesh to help strengthen the area
  • Keyhole surgery: also known as ‘minimally invasive’ surgery.

Open surgery is often the preferred option for larger hernias. Find out more about either of these procedures in our treatment for hernias section.

Other types of hernia include:

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