What is an Incisional Hernia?
An incisional hernia results from a surgical scar on the abdomen. This scar may indicate a weakening of the abdominal wall which holds the organs in place. As a result, a portion of an organ or internal body, such as a portion of the stomach, bowel or intestine protrudes through the wall up against the skin. The scar tissue resulting from abdominal surgery was thinned thanks to a number of possible factors: the patient could have experienced excessive weight gain, become pregnant, performed excessive physical activity which placed pressure on the abdomen, or experienced chronic and intense coughing or retching.
What are the Symptoms of an Incisional Hernia?
The primary symptom of an incisional hernia is the presence of a bulge in the abdominal area. This is normally painless, though it may become tender or throb during physical activity that uses the core muscles of the abdomen. If the hernia can be pushed back into place, this is a reducible form of hernia and not serious. If it cannot be pushed back, it means a piece of the organ has become trapped outside the abdominal wall. This is an incarcerated incisional hernia, and will include symptoms such as extreme pain, vomiting and the inability to have a bowel movement. This type of incisional hernia is very serious and should be treated to by a physician immediately.
How is an Incisional Hernia Treated?
Patients with incisional hernias should avoid activities that strain the abdominal muscles. They can also wear a truss to keep the hernia supported and prevent it from bulging outward. This does not repair the damage however. The hernia can only be repaired through surgery, known as a herniorrhpahy. This surgery includes pushing the organ back into place and repairing the abdominal wall. Because of the danger of reopening the abdominal wall, the recovery time for this surgery is very long. A surgeon may also insert a synthetic material over the weakened abdominal wall to strengthen it, like a patch for a tire.