Recurrent Hernias: What You Should Know

Hernia Info Authors

Did you know… A recurrent hernia is recognized as a (sometimes) painful bulge that reappears at or near the site of the original hernia.1

Risk Factors2,3

While it is possible for a hernia to reoccur due to surgical error or improper healing of a surgical wound, a recurrent hernia can also happen due to post-surgical conditions and behaviors such as:

  • Weight gain/obesity
  • Chronic, acute cough
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Medications that may compromise the immune system
  • Strenuous activities or being too active too soon

Symptoms of a Recurrent Hernia3

Reappearing near the site of a previous hernia, a recurrent hernia may present:

  • A bulge
  • Dull-to-severe pain especially when coughing, sneezing, or during strenuous activity
  • Bloating or constipation
  • Nausea/vomiting

Hernia Pain: Know When to See a Doctor →

Recurrent Hernia Diagnosis

If you’re concerned you may have a recurrent hernia, schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. After reviewing your medical history, your doctor may examine your abdominal area and ask you to cough or stand so that he/she can look for or feel for a bulge.
Imaging tests may be ordered to help determine a recurrent hernia’s size or location. For additional information about these imaging tests, click here and be sure to ask your doctor any questions you may have.
  • Ultrasound: Accurate, non-invasive, relatively inexpensive, and readily available, an ultrasound uses sound waves to create images of the abdomen and pelvic organs.4 A handheld device called a transducer is placed on the abdomen, sending images to a computer screen to be viewed.5
  • A Computed Tomography (CT) Scan: A CT scan utilizes X-ray images and computer technology to create detailed images of the abdomen and its organs. To help make the organs more visible on the images, you may be given a contrast dye intravenously (through a vein in your arm) or orally before the test.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): Using radio waves and a magnetic field to generate images of the abdomen and its organs, an MRI helps make organs more visible on images. You may be given a contrast dye intravenously (through a vein in your arm) or orally before the test. In the event a hernia is present without a bulge, an MRI can reveal if/where there is a tear in the abdomen.5

Potential Complications of a Recurrent Hernia

If left untreated, severe complications can result, such as:2,3

  • Infection
  • Intestines becoming trapped (incarcerated hernia)
  • Digestive obstruction/constipation or vomiting
  • Loss of blood supply to the intestines (strangulated hernia)

If you have symptoms of a recurrent hernia, contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible to have it diagnosed and to rule out other possible causes of pain.



The guidance provided in this article follows general rules that should be discussed with your doctor. This article is for informational and educational purposes only. It does not substitute for medical advice. If in doubt, always consult your doctor.

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