Ventral Hernia

A ventral hernia is a weakening or defect of the abdominal wall that occurs at a naturally weak spot such as the belly button, or at the site of a previous incision. The contents of the abdominal cavity, such as fat or intestines, can protrude through this defect and potentially cause problems.

A hernia will not go away on its own. Hernias can become problematic for several reasons:

  • may become larger
  • may cause symptoms such as pain
  • contents may become stuck (incarcerated hernia)
  • can become swollen to the point of impeding blood flow (strangulated hernia)

Depending on the circumstances, hernias may be repaired, managed by wearing a support binder, or, in some cases, simply monitored to make sure they do not grow or cause pain.

A number of factors in patients' lifestyle and wellness influence hernia formation, enlargement, and recurrence:

  • smoking
  • obesity
  • certain medical conditions, such as diabetes and COPD
  • certain medications, such as steroids

When planning repair, these factors should be optimized where possible.

Depending on individual circumstances, repair is either performed with a laparoscopic (minimally invasive) approach or an open approach. In either case, a mesh prosthetic is used to give strength to the repair.

Large hernias typically require an open surgery. For smaller hernias, it may be possible to conduct repairs laparoscopically. Factors such as obesity and advanced age also come into play when deciding which approach is better.

Whereas inguinal or groin hernia repairs are usually performed as a same-day procedure, ventral wall hernia repairs generally require a hospital stay for the initial recovery.