What is an incisional hernia?
An incisional hernia is a hole in the scar of a previous abdominal surgery. The allows intestine or fat from inside of the abdomen to push through this defect.
What are the causes of an incisional hernia?
- There are several causes.
- Poor wound healing after surgery
- Several operations through the same incision
- Prolonged use of steroids or immunosuppressive drugs
- Previous wound infection
- Straining and heavy lifting
- Chronic coughing or constipation
- Congenital weakness of the connective tissue
- Liver diseases
What are symptoms of an incisional hernia?
Often the only symptom is a bulge that increases in size with coughing or standing and subsiding on lying flat. More often there is pain and stretching at the site of the bulge. Occasionally bowel or other abdominal contents get s stuck inside the hernia causing severe pain and vomiting. If not relieved quickly, this can lead to strangulation and gangrene of that piece of bowel.
Can an incisional hernia be left without repair?
An incisional hernia will not go away without surgery but rather enlarge with time. Some hernias that are wide and not causing any symptoms can be observed. An elastic supportive garment (truss) may keep the hernia in place but this will not repair the hole in the abdominal wall.