Inguinal and Umbilical Hernias

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, he or she 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
Occur in the groin area and are 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 repair the connection because a piece of the intestine can move into this canal and become trapped. This is a serious concern that needs prompt surgical repair as the intestine can be cut off from the blood supply and become damaged.

Umbilical Hernia
Occur around the belly button when the abdominal muscles don’t fully close following birth. Many umbilical hernias close on their own by the time a baby is 3 years old. Most umbilical hernias close on their own without surgery. Surgery may be necessary if an umbilical hernia has not closed by age 3. In rare cases, surgery may occur sooner if the intestines cannot be pushed into the abdomen. This can cut off the blood supply and damage the abdominal muscles. 

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 who include 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
In addition to being among the best in the country, Duke Children's Hospital & Health Center is proud to be nationally ranked in nine pediatric specialties.