The degree of widening needed for the diagnosis is controversial, with the degree of abdominal protrusion (rather than the degree of widening) often defining whether it is pathological. However, >15-25 mm is usually considered abnormal depending on gender, parity and if postpartum, time since birth. Additionally, the normal width varies depending on the level at which the linea alba is measured (narrower at the xiphoid and inferiorly approaching the pubic symphysis, and widest at the level of the umbilicus).
Diastasis recti occurs primarily in newborn women and pregnant women, although can also occur in men and postpartum women 1-3.
- rectus abdominis is not fully developed and may not be sealed together at midline
- more common in premature and black newborns
- pregnant or postpartum women
- growing uterus stretches the rectus abdominis
- diastasis is more common in multiparous women due to repeated stretching
Treatment and prognosis
Diastasis recti is not a true hernia and, therefore, not associated with risk of strangulation. Repair (abdominoplasty) is primarily done for cosmetic reasons based more on degree of abdominal protrusion rather than the diastasis itself. It is performed by folding the linea alba and suturing together to create a tighter abdominal wall.
- 1. Beer GM, Schuster A, Seifert B, Manestar M, Mihic-Probst D, Weber SA. The normal width of the linea alba in nulliparous women. (2009) Clinical anatomy (New York, N.Y.). 22 (6): 706-11. doi:10.1002/ca.20836 - Pubmed
- 2. Mendes Dde A, Nahas FX, Veiga DF, Mendes FV, Figueiras RG, Gomes HC, Ely PB, Novo NF, Ferreira LM. Ultrasonography for measuring rectus abdominis muscles diastasis. (2007) Acta cirurgica brasileira. 22 (3): 182-6. Pubmed
- 3. Sperstad JB, Tennfjord MK, Hilde G, Ellström-Engh M, Bø K. Diastasis recti abdominis during pregnancy and 12 months after childbirth: prevalence, risk factors and report of lumbopelvic pain. (2016) British journal of sports medicine. 50 (17): 1092-6. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2016-096065 - Pubmed
- 4. Akram J, Matzen SH. Rectus abdominis diastasis. (2014) Journal of plastic surgery and hand surgery. 48 (3): 163-9. doi:10.3109/2000656X.2013.859145 - Pubmed