General Surgery

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Division of General Surgery

Incisional (Ventral) Abdominal Hernia

When a patient has an abdominal wall incision for open surgery of any type, incisional hernias can occur in as many as 1 in 10 patients (or more often depending on a variety of patient specific risk factors). These hernias may appear immediately after surgery or even several years later. In laparoscopic incisional hernia repair procedures, multiple small incisions are made throughout the abdomen and surrounding the hernia defect rather than one large incision as is the case for open repair. With the patient asleep, carbon dioxide gas is used to distend the abdominal cavity and create space for the surgeon to work during the repair. The surgeon navigates throughout the abdominal cavity using a long thin camera (laparoscope) to project an image from inside onto a video screen. Once all adhesions and scar tissue have been cleared from the abdominal wall, a piece of thin and pliable surgical mesh is rolled and pulled into the abdomen through a tiny incision and laparoscopic port site. The mesh is unrolled and then used to repair the hernia defect using a combination of sutures and tacks to fix the mesh into place.

Not every incisional hernia can or should be repaired laparoscopically. Some patients require or will do much better with a more extensive abdominal wall reconstruction. There are a variety of techniques that can be used to accomplish this reconstruction. Your surgeon can help to determine the best approach. Additional testing (such as an abdominal CT scan) or consultation (with Condon Hernia Institute providers) may be necessary for complicated cases. For a full discussion of the risks, options, and alternatives to incisional hernia repair, please make an appointment with a surgeon.

Hernia Surgery Program
© 2014 Medical College of Wisconsin
Page Updated 10/29/2013