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What Is an Abdominal Incision?

Hernias and appendicitis cases are treated with abdominal surgery.
A scalpel is a common tool used for making incisions.
An abdominal incision is a type of surgical incision made on the abdomen, or belly area, to access the organs inside the abdominal cavity.
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  • Written By: Christina Edwards
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 18 September 2014
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An abdominal incision is a type of surgical incision made on the abdomen, or belly area to access the organs inside the abdominal cavity. This type of incision may be made for several reasons, including intestinal blockages and Caesarian sections. Usually, these types of incisions are closed with dissolving stitches on the inside, and regular sutures or staples on the outside. As with any surgical incision, it is very important to keep an abdominal incision clean and dry to help prevent a serious infection.

In humans, the abdominal area includes the area of the body below the chest and above the pelvic area. An abdominal incision is considered to be any incision in this area made by a surgeon. Like other types of incisions, these are usually made with very sharp surgical instruments, known as scalpels.

Abdominal incisions are typically made to gain access to the internal organs in this area, particularly organs associated with the digestive system and female reproductive system. Some of the organs that can be reached through these types of incisions include stomachs, intestines, and livers. The ovaries and uterus can also be accessed through an abdominal incision.

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When making abdominal incisions, surgeons should be very careful. Cutting some of these organs can cause them to rupture, which can result in a very dangerous infection. If the intestines are perforated during abdominal surgery, feces may leak into the abdominal cavity. This can cause serious, life-threatening conditions, such as peritonitis or sepsis, if it is not treated promptly.

A surgeon might need to make an abdominal incision for a variety of reasons. Bowel problems, such as intestinal blockages and bowel cancer, may require surgery, for instance. In females, abdominal incisions may be made during Caesarian sections or hysterectomies. Hernias and appendicitis cases are also treated with abdominal surgery.

After abdominal surgery, surgeons will often use both dissolving stitches and traditional sutures or staples to hold the abdominal incision closed. Dissolving sutures are usually used on the inside of the abdomen, and these do not need to be removed, since they dissolve after a few weeks. Traditional sutures or staples, however, are usually removed after about a week or two.

While an abdominal incision is healing, the area should be kept clean and dry. To clean the incision, most doctors recommend letting soapy water wash over it. It can then be patted dry with a towel and covered with a dry sterile bandage.

A healing abdominal incision is also usually quite painful. Most patients find that it can be uncomfortable to walk, sneeze, cough, laugh, urinate, and defecate. Strong pain medication is usually prescribed for the pain, but a compression garment worn around the abdomen can also help. If one of these garments is unavailable, a pillow can also be pressed to the abdomen to help minimize the pain.

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