Last revised by Dr Calum Worsley on 26 May 2022

Incarcerated (also referred to as irreducible) is used to describe herniae, in which their contents are unable to pass back through the hernial opening to their anatomical site of origin. 

Incarceration is a risk factor for bowel obstruction and strangulation, and therefore usually necessitates urgent surgery.

History and etymology

Incarcerate is probably a retronym from incarceration, itself derived from 'incarceratus', a Medieval Latin word, a past participle form of incarcerare, which meant to put into prison. Ultimately it derived from the Latin words 'in', meaning in, and 'carcer', meaning a secluded place or prison 3.

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Cases and figures

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