Inguinal and Umbilical Hernias

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Hernias are a common concern in infants and often become noticeable in the first few weeks and months of life. The type and location of a hernia determine whether hernia repair surgery is needed. If your child is referred to Duke for hernia surgery, they will be cared for by a team of specialists whose main concern is your child’s health and well-being.

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About Inguinal and Umbilical Hernias

Hernias feel like a soft lump, bulge, or swelling under the skin in the groin or around the belly button. You may notice the swelling when your baby cries or coughs. Typically, a pediatrician will make the diagnosis during one of your baby’s check-ups and refer your child to a Duke pediatric general surgeon if surgery is necessary.

Inguinal Hernia
This type of hernia begins in the groin area and is more common in premature infants. It typically develops when the canal that connects the abdomen to the genitals doesn’t close prior to birth. Surgery is needed to close the connection because a piece of the intestine can move into this canal and become trapped. This serious concern needs prompt surgical repair as the intestine can be cut off from the blood supply and become damaged. Inguinal hernias are also common in adults.

Umbilical Hernia
Umbilical hernias are found around the belly button when the abdominal muscle wall doesn’t fully close following birth. Many close on their own, but surgery may be necessary if this does not happen by age three. In rare cases, surgery may be needed sooner if the intestines cannot be pushed into the abdomen. This can cut off the blood supply and damage the abdominal muscles. Umbilical hernias are also common in adults.

Duke Locations

Duke Health offers pediatric general surgery consultations in Durham and Raleigh. Surgery takes place in Durham.

Treatment Options

Hernia Repair Surgery

Children who need hernia surgery are cared for by a team of pediatric specialists, including pediatric surgeons, pediatric nurses, pediatric anesthesiologists, and other specially trained staff.

Minimally Invasive Approach

Our surgeons make small incisions in the child’s abdomen and may use a thin tube, called a laparoscope, to reach and repair the abdominal wall. The laparoscope is not used to repair umbilical hernias. Your child will be given anesthesia and may be able to go home the same day.

Best Children's Hospital in NC

Duke Children's Hospital & Health Center is proud to be nationally ranked in 10 pediatric specialties.

This page was medically reviewed on 03/24/2023 by