Ventral Hernias

If you’re struggling with the many possible symptoms of ventral hernias—from sharp pain to vomiting—you understand the importance of finding prompt, effective treatment. Mount Sinai’s highly skilled surgeons have extensive experience with procedures that will provide relief, including laparoscopic ventral hernia repair.

About Ventral Hernias

A ventral hernia occurs when a weak spot in the abdomen enables abdominal tissue or an organ (such as an intestine) to protrude through a cavity muscle area. These hernias are visibly identified by a bulge in the belly area. The most common locations for ventral hernias are the site of a previous abdominal procedure (an incisional hernia, the navel (an umbilical hernia, and the groin (an inguinal hernia).

Ventral hernias can appear as a congenital defect at birth, or develop over a period of time resulting from factors such as pregnancy, abdominal surgery, or long-term stress on the abdominal muscles. Ventral hernias cannot heal on their own. Most commonly, ventral hernias are surgically repaired in order to avoid the risk of the intestine becoming strangulated (cut off from the body’s blood supply). Strangulation is considered a medical emergency.

A ventral hernia’s symptoms are determined by its location in the abdomen and can include sharp pain that may be present during physical activity, vomiting (in the case of incisional hernias), and constipation.

Ventral hernias are typically diagnosed by checking the abdomen for a noticeable bulge. Some physicians may conduct CT scans, ultrasound, blood tests, or urinalysis in addition to the physical examination.

Treatments for Ventral Hernias

If an organ is stuck in the hernial cavity, or if an organ is at risk for becoming stuck, surgery will typically be recommend to repair a ventral hernia. At Mount Sinai, our surgical experts assess the hernia’s size and location, among other factors, to determine the best possible treatment plan.

Mount Sinai surgeons offer the full spectrum of surgical treatments for ventral hernias, including minimally invasive procedures such as laparoscopic ventral hernia repair. For this procedure, surgeons carefully place a few small incisions (about ½ - 1 inch long) for the laparoscope, which is a tiny camera that projects real-time images onto a screen, allowing a surgeon to see inside the abdomen. In addition to serving as ports for the laparoscopes, the incisions serve as portals for the medical instruments that a surgeon will use to cover the hernia with a small piece of mesh so it does not recur.

General anesthesia is used for all laparoscopic ventral hernia repairs. Depending on the size of the hernia and the complexity of the surgery, patients either leave on the same day of the surgery or stay overnight in the hospital. As with any operation, complications such as bleeding, infection, injury to the intestines, blood clots, or heart or lung problems may occur. Your surgeon will recommend testing to determine if it is safe for you to have surgery.

You will be able to walk after the surgery, though you will typically need about three weeks before resuming heavy physical activity. Patients usually take one to two weeks off from work after a laparoscopic ventral hernia repair.