The risk of internal hernia or volvulus after laparoscopic colorectal surgery: a systematic review

J. W T Toh*, R. Lim, A. Keshava, M. J F X Rickard

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Aim: To determine the incidence of internal hernias after laparoscopic colorectal surgery and evaluate the risk factors and strategies in the management of this serious complication. Method: Two databases (MEDLINE from 1946 and Embase from 1949) were searched to mid-September 2015. The search terms included volvulus or internal hernia and laparoscopic colorectal surgery or colorectal surgery or anterior resection or laparoscopic colectomy. We found 49 and 124 articles on MEDLINE and Embase, respectively, an additional 15 articles were found on reviewing the references. After removal of duplicates, 176 abstracts were reviewed, with 33 full texts reviewed and 15 eligible for qualitative synthesis. Results: The incidence of internal hernia after laparoscopic colorectal surgery is low (0.65%). Thirty-one patients were identified. Five cases were from two prospective studies (5/648, 0.8%), 20 cases were from seven retrospective studies (20/3165, 0.6%) and six patients were from case reports. Of the 31 identified cases, 21 were associated with left-sided resection, four with right sided resection, two with transverse colectomy, one with a subtotal colectomy and in three cases the operation was not specified. The majority of cases (64.3%) were associated with a restorative left sided resection. Nearly all cases occurred within 4 months of surgery. All patients required re-operation and reduction of the internal hernia and 35.7% of cases required a bowel resection. In 52.2% of cases, the mesenteric defect was closed at the second operation and 52.6% of cases were successfully managed laparoscopically. There were three deaths (0.08%). Conclusion: Mesenteric hernias are a rare but important complication of laparoscopic colorectal surgery. The evidence does not support routine closure for all cases, but selective closure of the mesenteric defect during left-sided restorative procedures in high-risk patients at the initial surgery may be considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1133-1141
Number of pages9
JournalColorectal Disease
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • anterior resection
  • colorectal surgery
  • Internal hernia
  • laparoscopic colectomy
  • neo-colon
  • volvulus


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