A hernia is the protrusion of an organ or part of an organ (commonly in the lower abdominal region), through a weak point or tear in the thin muscular wall. A hernia can develop anywhere in the body like around the navel, in the groin, or any place where a person may have had a surgical incision. Some hernias are present at birth while others develop gradually over a period of months or years.
An incisional hernia develops within the abdominal wall due to a prior surgical scar or incision. The scar mainly attributes to a weakening of the abdominal wall that holds the organs in place. Hence, in this condition a part of an organ or internal body, like a portion of the stomach, bowel, or intestine protrudes or bulges through the wall up against the skin. It occurs in both men and women, and is commonly observed in people with multiple abdominal surgeries. There are various factors like excessive weight gain, pregnancy, straining during bowel movements, constipation, severe vomiting, or chronic and intense coughing that may cause the scar tissue formed after an abdominal surgery to thin or stretch, resulting in this medical condition.
Symptoms of Incisional Hernia
This medical condition occurs quite suddenly and increases in size with time. Usually the bulge in the abdominal area becomes tender and causes discomfort only during some kind of physical activity like lifting or coughing. Such type of hernia is harmless and can be pushed back, hence called reducible hernia. While the hernia that can't be pushed back and incarcerates the organ is called incarcerated hernia. If not treated in time, incarcerated hernia may further develop into strangulated hernia which means the organ tissue begins to die. Along with bulging and discomfort in the abdominal area, some other incisional hernia symptoms that the affected person may experience are:
- Persistent pain at the site of the scar
- Burning sensation at the site of the scar
- Abdominal pain and swelling
- Fever, nausea, and vomiting
- Discomfort and uneasiness while having a bowel movement
Before treating it, the doctor may perform a physical examination in which he/she may ask you to cough while he puts little pressure on the bulging area. The coughing will result in further bulging of the hernia. The treatment would depend on whether it is reducible, incarcerated, or possibly strangulated. Most of the affected people have to undergo a surgery to repair incisional hernias and avoid the risks of a strangulated hernia. Hernia surgery, called herniorrhaphy, repairs hernia by pressing the piece of the organ back into place and repairing the abdominal wall so that the organ cannot push through again. However, the surgery involves a large incision and a long recovery period.
Hence, hernia repairs are now being performed through laparoscopic surgery involving a special viewing instrument called a laparoscope which is inserted through a small incision in the abdomen. The instrument also comprises a tiny video camera that provides the surgeon a clear view of the abdominal area. The surgery can be performed on an outpatient basis but is not recommended for extremely large hernias.
Although successful repair is the most common outcome of surgery on an incisional hernia, recurrence does occur in 25 to 50 percent of cases depending upon the location and size of hernia. The affected people are usually recommended to avoid abdominal strain and to wear a special type of belt, called a truss, to support hernia and prevent these symptoms from occurring. Following a healthy diet rich in fiber, drinking plenty of fluids, and exercising regularly will prevent constipation and maintain healthy weight which will further prevent the risks of having this medical condition.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.