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Should my mother go in for surgery for hernia?

Q: My mother, 53 years old, has an incisional hernia. Her uterus was removed 12 years back after, which she tested positive for cancer. She underwent radiotherapy and was then fine. She does not have any hypertension or diabetes problem. We had her biopsy done last week and it was negative. Now the problem is her hernia. The doctor says we need to do an operation but they also say that healing of the wound will be difficult because of radiotherapy. But some say that since radiotherapy was done long back so it will not cause any problem. We are totally confused. She had a scan done recently and there was not complication at present due to the hernia. She is wearing a support belt since the last 3 years. Could you please advise us on whether or not she should undergo the operation for hernia? Is it safe for her?

A:I am sorry to note that your mother is suffering from an incisional hernia. Repairing an incisional hernia following radio-therapy definitely carries increased risk of poor healing. Your have not mentioned the dose of radiotherapy that was given which would be a factor influencing healing. However, the fact that radiotherapy was given 12 years ago decreases some what the risk of non-healing. Whether your mother should undergo the hernia repair depends on several factors such as the size of hernia, history of non-reducibility or obstruction and the severity of skin changes over the hernia. The surgeon should plan repair so as not to compromise the vascular supply of the flap. A good general surgeon should be able to advise you appropriately.

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