Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Hernia Repair Surgery, Generally



A hernia is a break in the thick, heavy connective tissue layer that surrounds the abdomen. There are a variety of congenital hernias, and hernias occur secondary to traumatic tearing of the abdominal wall too.

Surgical site hernias are not uncommon following complicated colic surgery. Some hernias may only be cosmetic, while others require surgical repair.

Repair of large hernias can be challenging surgically. The problem is that in order to bridge the hole, tension on the edges of the hernia is required. A basic principle of surgery is not to repair tissues under tension. When tissues are repaired under tension, the repair will likely fail.

A variety of methods have been devised to address this problem. A common approach in the repair of large hernias in the horse is the use of a mesh patch which is used to bridge the hernia. The mesh is sutured in place and the tissues are closed over it. The surgery requires careful placement of the patch, good technique and meticulous aftercare.

You will have an important role after surgery. You will need to restrict the horse’s activity and monitor the surgical site carefully. Large hernia repair requires meticulous aftercare, restricted exercise and bandaging of the area to reduce swelling and provide support. Aftercare will be needed for at least 2-3 weeks. In some cases, application of a hernia belt can be helpful post-operatively.

This Treatment Might be used for a horse exhibiting these signsRelated Observations

Related DiagnosesThis Treatment Might Be Used for these Diagnoses

Consider Potential Side Effects & Complications

Even mesh hernia repairs can fail.

Infection and the formation of a hematoma can occur.

The hernia may recur and may even become larger.

Consider Reasons Not To Use This Treatment

Mesh should not be used in the presence of infection.

Is It working? Timeframe for effect

Questions To Ask My Vet

  • What is the required aftercare?
  • Have you performed a number of these operations?
  • What has your success rate been?
  • How long before my horse can return to work?
Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


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