A peristomal hernia can occur at any time after stoma surgery. Learn what a peristomal hernia is and how to prevent it.
A peristomal hernia (also known as a parastomal hernia) is a common complication that affects many people with stomas. However, not everyone with a stoma develops a peristomal hernia.
A peristomal hernia can occur weeks, months, or years after stoma surgery. The risk of developing a peristomal hernia increases with age. Other risk factors include surgical technique, muscle weakness, and multiple abdominal operations. Being overweight, coughing, or straining can also increase the likelihood of a peristomal hernia.
What is a peristomal hernia?
A peristomal hernia forms because of a weakness in the abdominal wall that allows the abnormal protrusion of an organ or part of an organ (usually the bowel). The weakness is the reason that a peristomal hernia appears as a bulge around the stoma. Skin surface irregularities and tension around the stoma can occur as well, depending on the hernia’s size and shape.
A parastomal hernia
Sideways view of a hernia formation
The size and shape of a peristomal hernia will change depending on your position. For example, it may become less visible when you are lying down. Peristomal hernias may be very small or quite large.
A peristomal hernia usually develops slowly. Many people don’t realise they have a hernia until they see their stoma care nurse or surgeon. Some find the appearance of a hernia to be very distressing, so it’s important to understand why hernias appear and how to prevent them.
Tips for preventing a peristomal hernia
The risk of developing a peristomal hernia due to straining when lifting or strenuous exercise is generally higher than the risk of developing a groin hernia. This is because muscles are cut during surgery to make the stoma, which may make them weaker after the procedure.
To help prevent a peristomal hernia, you can:
If you suspect you have a peristomal hernia
If you think you may have a peristomal hernia, see your stoma care nurse. He or she will assess your abdomen and provide you with management options.
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