incisional hernia

Incisional hernias (alternative plural: herniae) are relatively common and along with parastomal herniasumbilical herniasparaumbilical hernias, and Spigelian hernias, they are usually anterior abdominal hernias.


Incisional hernias usually develop within a few months of surgery, but a small proportion can remain clinically silent for years. They typically occur after laparotomy with rates of ~7.5%.

Risk factors

Numerous risk factors for developing an incisional hernia have been identified:

  • preoperative factors: increasing age, female gender, BMI >25, increasing thickness of subcutaneous fat based on CT, preoperative chemotherapy
  • intraoperative factors: midline incision, contaminated or infected wound noted during procedure, intraoperative blood loss
  • postoperative factors: surgical site infection


Incisional hernias occur most frequently through previous laparotomy scars (other incisional hernias are possible, such as a lung hernia). Widening or dehiscence of the scar allows intra-abdominal contents to herniate into the subcutaneous tissues.

Treatment and prognosis


Complications are similar to other hernias and include incarceration, strangulation and intestinal obstruction.

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