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Why has my mother's abdomen distended after donating a kidney?

Q: My mother is 50 years old. She donated me a kidney for my transplant surgery 7 months ago. After the surgery her operational site has become quite loose and she often feels pain and heaviness in her stomach. The doctor did not suggest proper precautions after the surgery and neither did they suggest any surgical belt in order to keep the muscles of the abdomen intact. It was only after 4 months of surgery that she started wearing the belt. But the problem starts again as she detaches it. Someone told her that she should have worn the belt just after the stitch removal, as later it has no significance. Her abdominal ultrasound is absolutely OK. What precautions should she take? Are there any special therapies, which can be followed to improve the condition of her abdomen and bring it to a normal position?

A:Based on the information, your mother probably suffered from a rare complication of surgical procedure of nephrectomy, namely “incisional hernia”. It involves protrusion of tissue, fat or even an organ through the inner surface of abdominal wall weakened by the surgical scar at the site of initial incision from the surgery. It can occur months or even years after the surgery. Wearing a belt or a brief/elastic band can help reduce the protrusion thereby minimizing the symptoms of discomfort though it can never cure it. My advice would be to follow up with the surgeon who would probably recommend the surgical correction of the hernia as a definitive treatment based on the severity of the problem. In the meantime, she would need to avoid lifting heavy objects and continue wearing the abdominal belt.


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