Hernia Surgery (Herniorrhaphy)

Laparoscopic, Robotic, and Complex Hernia Surgery for Inguinal Hernia, Umbilical Hernia, and Other Types of Hernias

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Duke hernia surgeons are experts in repairing all types of hernias, including common inguinal hernias in the groin, umbilical hernias in the belly button, and incisional hernias that develop from surgical scars. We successfully repair recurrent hernias in people who have undergone failed surgeries elsewhere and were told nothing more can be done.

Our hernia surgeons are skilled in all approaches to hernia surgery (herniorrhaphy), including minimally invasive techniques such as laparoscopic or robotic hernia surgery and complex hernia surgery such as component separations and abdominal wall reconstruction. We assess your condition and recommend pre-surgical treatment plans when appropriate to ensure you are prepared for hernia surgery. We help you return to pain-free health as quickly as possible.

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Experts in Treating all Types of Hernias

Hernias occur when a weak spot or hole develops in muscle or tissue. Ventral hernias include any hernia that protrudes through a gap in the abdominal wall. Incisional hernias occur at an incision site or surgical scar following abdominal surgery.

The most common type of hernia is an inguinal hernia, also known as a groin hernia. It occurs when abdominal tissue pushes through the lower abdominal wall, near the groin. They are more likely to occur in men.

Women are more likely to get an umbilical hernia. It occurs when tissue or muscle pushes through the belly button. Multiple pregnancies, being overweight, straining, and other factors can increase your likelihood of having an umbilical hernia. The same factors cause women to be more likely to develop a femoral hernia in the upper part of the thigh, near the groin.

Hiatal hernias occur when the stomach and other abdominal organs enter the chest area through a naturally occurring hole in the diaphragm.

When to Seek Hernia Treatment
Seek expert medical care when a bulge in your abdomen or groin causes pain and discomfort.  Hernias cannot heal on their own. They sometimes require immediate care to prevent further damage such as bowel obstruction. Getting hernia surgery now can prevent the need for more complex surgery in the future.

Our Locations

Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.

Diagnosing Hernias and Pre-Surgical Care

Physical Exam and Imaging Tests

The first step will be a physical exam. Your surgeon will visually and physically assess the hernia to evaluate its location and size.  You will be asked questions to understand your symptoms. CT scans and ultrasounds may be ordered to determine the size and location of your hernia accurately. This information will help us create your treatment plan.

Controlling Risk Factors that Can Cause Complications

During the initial assessment, we review your medical history to assess your risk for complications during and following surgery. Certain factors, including diabetes, smoking, and obesity can increase your risk for infection and hernia recurrence and affect how quickly you recover from hernia surgery.

Pre-Surgical Conditioning

We may refer you to our smoking cessation and/or weight management program if appropriate. These teams of experts can help you lose weight and stop smoking to decrease your risk for complications and improve your candidacy for surgery.

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Choosing the Right Approach to Your Hernia Surgery

Your hernia surgeon will determine the best approach for your hernia surgery that will increase the likelihood you have a positive outcome and decrease your risk of complications and hernia recurrence. Our hernia surgeons are experts in the following types of hernia surgery.

Laparoscopic or Robotic (Minimally Invasive) Hernia Surgery

When appropriate, small incisions may be used that cause less pain and help you recover faster. A laparoscope is a thin tube with a small camera at the tip. It is passed through small incisions made in the abdomen. Tiny instruments are passed through separate small incisions to repair the hernia. In some cases, your surgeon may perform robotic hernia surgery. Using a robotic device allows your hernia surgeon to reach the hernia and perform complicated hernia operations with more precision and better visualization.

Open Hernia Surgery

When larger, complex hernias are present or risk factors and complications are a concern, larger incisions may be necessary. This is referred to as open hernia surgery.

Component Separation

This advanced procedure is used to repair large abdominal wall hernias. The surgeon will rearrange the muscles of the abdominal wall to eliminate the weakness. This technique can minimize the risk of recurrence in complex hernias. 

Hernia Surgery Recovery

Hernia operations can be simple or complex. They may be minimally invasive and require no overnight hospital stay or a very brief overnight recovery. Or they may require larger incisions and a longer hospital stay. Your recovery will be equally variable. It will depend on your hernia type, size, and location; whether you’ve had past surgeries and known risk factors for complications; and whether hernia mesh is used.  Your surgeon will discuss all of these options with you at your preoperative visit.

Best Hospital for Gastroenterology and GI Surgery in NC

Where you receive your care matters. Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why our gastroenterology and GI surgery program is nationally ranked, and the highest-ranked program in North Carolina, according to U.S. News & World Report for 2023–2024.

Using Hernia Mesh in Surgery

Hernia mesh is frequently used in surgery to strengthen and reinforce the hernia repair and decrease the risk of hernia recurrence. Hernia mesh can be associated with complications, including an increased risk of pain and infection; however, these complications are uncommon when hernia mesh is used by an experienced hernia surgeon.

We Lower Your Risk of Hernia Mesh Complications
Our pre-surgical evaluation identifies people who may be at risk for complications associated with hernia mesh. Being obese, smoking, having diabetes, and having known wound complications are all risk factors. If you have one or more of these risk factors, we work with you to reduce your risk for complications to ensure you have a positive outcome after hernia surgery.

This page was medically reviewed on 03/13/2023 by