Smoking is a risk factor for incisional hernia

Arch Surg. 2005 Feb;140(2):119-23. doi: 10.1001/archsurg.140.2.119.


Hypothesis: A number of risk factors for incisional hernia have been identified, but the pathogenesis remains unclear. Based on previous findings of smoking as a risk factor for wound complications and recurrence of groin hernia, we studied whether smoking is associated with incisional hernia.

Design: Cohort study. Clinical follow-up study for incisional hernia 33 to 57 months following laparotomy for gastrointestinal disease. Variables predictive for incisional hernia were assessed by multiple regression analysis.

Setting: Department of Surgery, Bispebjerg Hospital, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Patients: All 916 patients undergoing laparotomy from 1997 through 1998. Surgeons performed clinical examination in 310 patients; patients who failed to meet for examination, died, or were lost to follow-up were excluded.

Main outcome measures: Thirty-four variables related to patient history, preoperative clinical condition, operative severity and findings, and the surgeon's training.

Results: The incidence of incisional hernia was 26% (81/310). Smokers had a 4-fold higher risk of incisional hernia (odds ratio [OR], 3.93 [95% confidence interval (CI), 1.82-8.49]) independent of other risk factors and confounders. Relaparotomy was the strongest factor associated with hernia (OR, 5.89 [95% CI, 1.78-19.48]). Other risk factors were postoperative wound complications (OR, 3.91 [95% CI, 1.99-7.66]), age (OR, 1.04 [95% CI, 1.02-1.06]), and male sex (OR, 2.17 [95% CI, 1.21-3.91]).

Conclusion: Smoking is a significant risk factor for incisional hernia in line with relaparotomy, postoperative wound complications, older age, and male sex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Female
  • Hernia, Abdominal / epidemiology*
  • Hernia, Abdominal / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Laparotomy*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Smoking / physiopathology
  • Wound Healing / physiology