A hernia occurs when a weakness in the muscles of the abdominal wall allows tissue to protrude through. In the instance of an incisional hernia, the weakness is caused by the incision from a previous abdominal surgery that hasn’t healed properly, usually due to infection.
Incisional Hernia Symptoms
Many people notice bulging tissue when standing up, lifting heavy objects or bending over. The hernia will simply feel like a bump where the incision occurred and usually goes away when the patient lies on their back.
Other common symptoms for those with an incisional hernia include:
- Visible protrusion
- Pain, aching or swelling in the affected area
Incisional Hernia Causes
Incisional hernias are more likely to occur in obese or pregnant patients due to the muscle becoming weak or stretched in the abdominal area. A history of multiple abdominal surgeries will also increase risk of developing a hernia and a person is most likely to develop the issue three to six months following their surgery.
Diagnosing an Incisional Hernia
Since an incisional hernia occurs at the site of the surgery, it is fairly easy for the doctor to diagnose. In most cases, only a visual inspection will be needed. The physician may ask the patient to cough or bend to cause the hernia to protrude. If the hernia is large, digital screenings may be performed to determine what tissue is protruding from the body.
Incisional Hernia Treatment Options
In cases where the hernia is small and isn’t growing in size, surgery is not a necessity. For a large hernia, especially if it is causing pain or becoming larger, a doctor will recommend surgery.
Open Hernia Repair – The surgeon will make an incision outside of the affected area. The protruding tissue will be placed back behind the abdominal wall. The weakened abdominal wall tissue will often be reinforced. Once the incision is closed, the procedure is complete.
Laparoscopic Hernia Repair – This procedure is minimally invasive. During a laparoscopy, the surgeon will create several tiny incisions and operate using a small tube attached to a camera. Small tools will be used to repair the hernia. This option may reduce recovery time, but may not be available to those with large hernias or previous pelvic surgeries.
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