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Incisional hernia

Key sources
The following summarized guidelines for the evaluation and management of incisional hernia are prepared by our editorial team based on guidelines from the European Hernia Society (EHS/AHS 2022), the International Endohernia Society (IEHS 2019), and the World Society of Emergency Surgery (WSES 2017).


1.Classification and risk stratification

Risk factors
Recognize that incisional hernia formation results from a combination of factors, such as:
patient comorbidities
health-related behaviors
immunosuppressive medications
surgical technique
soft tissue healing
surgical site infection
Insufficient evidence to recommend a universal or standard definition of what constitutes a high-risk patient, as risk varies significantly across procedures and specialties. Take into consideration risk relative to a specific procedure and specialty.
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  • Classification

2.Diagnostic investigations

Evaluation for bowel strangulation: assess for systemic inflammatory response syndrome, obtain contrast-enhanced CT, serum lactate, creatinine phosphokinase, and D-dimer to assess for bowel strangulation.

3.Perioperative care

Antibiotic prophylaxis: administer short-term antimicrobial prophylaxis in patients with intestinal incarceration with no evidence of ischemia and no bowel resection (CDC wound class I).
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4.Surgical interventions

Indications for emergency repair
As per IEHS 2019 guidelines:
Consider repairing enterotomy followed by a mesh repair of the hernia in patients with recognized bowel injury, without significant enteric fluid leakage.
Consider repairing the hernia laparoscopically after 5-7 days in the absence of signs of infection if there is a conversion to open surgery to repair the enterotomy.

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  • Technical considerations for surgery

5.Specific circumstances

Patients with obesity
Prefer the laparoscopic approach due to its lower wound infection and wound complication rates in patients with obesity presenting with a ventral or incisional hernia.
Consider undertaking additional technical steps (greater mesh fixation, more overlap, suture closure of the defect) when using the laparoscopic approach in patients with obesity, as they are at increased risk of recurrence.

6.Preventative measures

Incision techniques, surgical approach
Recognize that there is a decreased risk of both incisional hernia and surgical site occurrences in patients undergoing laparoscopic operations compared with open operations.
Consider performing laparoscopic surgery when safe and feasible to reduce the risk of incisional hernia and surgical site occurrence.

More topics in this section

  • Incision techniques (incision type)

  • Abdominal closure techniques (trocar site closure)

  • Abdominal closure techniques (laparotomy closure)

  • Prophylactic mesh augmentation

  • Postoperative abdominal binders

  • Postoperative activity restrictions