No consensus on restrictions on physical activity to prevent incisional hernias after surgery



In the postoperative phase after colorectal surgery, restrictions on physical activity are often recommended for patients to prevent incisional hernias. However, evidence does not support that restrictions may prevent such hernias. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the extent of restrictions on physical activity recommended for patients operated for colorectal cancer and to evaluate the agreement among surgical specialists.


A questionnaire was sent to 60 general surgeons (specialists) in Denmark and Sweden working in academic departments of surgery with a high volume of colorectal cancer resections. The questionnaire was case based and contained questions regarding possible restrictions on physical activity recommended for patients 0–2, 2–6 and >6 weeks after resection for colorectal cancer. Agreement among the surgeon on whether restrictions should be recommended was analyzed.


Forty-one surgeons answered the questionnaire (68.3 %). The probability that two randomly chosen specialists agreed on whether restrictions should be given was generally low for the first two time periods (0–2 and 2–6 weeks); however, at >6 weeks there was a high level of agreement. Moreover, the number of restrictions recommended was different between the 41 surgeons (p < 0.0005) and more restrictions were recommended for open compared with laparoscopic surgery (p < 0.0005).


Major disagreements exist on the degree of restrictions on physical activity that should be recommended for patients after colorectal surgery. As there is no evidence to support that specific restrictions prevent hernia formation, these are merely based on personal preferences. Clinical studies in this area are therefore highly warranted.

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We wish to thank Martin Gellerstedt and Torben Martinussen for statistical help.

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Correspondence to H.-C. Pommergaard.

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Pommergaard, H., Burcharth, J., Danielsen, A. et al. No consensus on restrictions on physical activity to prevent incisional hernias after surgery. Hernia 18, 495–500 (2014).

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  • Incisional hernia
  • Colorectal surgery
  • Physical activity
  • Restrictions
  • Prevention of hernia
  • Ventral hernia