Hernia and Abdominal Wall Repair

Appointment New Patient Appointment or 214-645-8300

The UT Southwestern Hernia Repair Program offers the most advanced care for all abdominal hernias. A team approach brings specialists from other disciplines, together with our surgeons, to provide the most comprehensive care available.

What is an Abdominal Hernia?

An abdominal hernia occurs when all or part of an internal organ bulges through a weakened part of the abdominal wall that normally contains it within the body. UT Southwestern surgeons use both traditional and newer, advanced techniques to accommodate all types of hernias and patients.

The UT Southwestern Hernia Repair Program brings together a range of experts in:

  • Endocrine surgery
  • General surgery
  • Gynecology
  • Imaging and radiology
  • Internal medicine
  • Oncology
  • Physical medicine and rehabilitation
  • Plastic surgery
  • Transplantation
  • Urology

Comprehensive Hernia Care to Ensure the Best Outcomes

Our comprehensive patient care includes management of associated risk factors such as obesity, diabetesrespiratory insufficiency, steroids, infection, smoking, and even inherited disorders such as Marfan syndrome.

Our whole-team approach ensures an accurate diagnosis and optimal hernia surgical repair. As a regional and national referral center for complex abdominal wall reconstruction, we treat patients from all over the country.

Hernia-Related Conditions We Treat

Men and women of all ages can develop hernias, which usually result from a combination of muscle weakness and strain. Though the most common site of hernia formation is the groin, numerous other abdominal sites can herniate.

Our hernia and abdominal wall reconstructive surgery specialists treat defects that result from: 

  • Recurrent hernias
  • Fistulae, abnormal passages between two body parts formed by disease or injury
  • Trauma
  • Mesh infections
  • Transplantation
  • Tumor removal defects
  • Surgical complications, such as after bariatric surgery
  • Obesity
  • Congenital defects, such as urologic conditions

We are equipped to handle:

  • Congenital and acquired hernias, such as inguinal, incisional, ventral hernias, epigastric, umbilical, and hiatal hernias
  • Incarcerated hernias, a condition in which the protruding tissue cannot easily be returned to its proper position
  • Strangulated hernias, in which blood flow to the herniated tissue is cut off, creating a potentially life-threatening condition

Diagnosing Abdominal Hernias

Patients usually come in for an assessment by the entire team in a coordinated visit, with all testing and imaging services performed in a centralized location during the same appointment, reducing unnecessary visits.

Our doctors begin with a physical exam to determine whether patients have a hernia and, if so, where it is located. In some cases, patients need additional imaging, such as:

  • Computed tomography (CT) scan, using specialized X-ray technology that takes cross-sectional images to produce 3D images of the abdomen to pinpoint a hernia
  • Ultrasound, using sound waves to produce images of the abdomen to locate a hernia
  • X-rayto produce images of the abdomen to assess blockages in the bowel

Options for Abdominal Wall Hernia Repair

In recommending the best hernia surgery option for each patient, our surgeons consider multiple factors, such as overall health, any previous surgical procedures, ability to heal, and the size of the hernia.

UT Southwestern surgeons have experience with all main surgical approaches:

  • Primary repair: Sutures placed in the abdomen to close the hernia opening for simple and small defects
  • Safe mesh repair: Prosthetic or biologic mesh to repair openings that are too large for a primary technique; mesh is placed in such a way that complications are rare
  • Complex hernia and abdominal wall repair: Combination of primary and mesh repair techniques, which can include muscle flaps for complete coverage of the abdomen

Our surgeons are also experienced in minimally invasive surgical techniques for hernia and abdominal wall surgery, such as:

  • Laparoscopic surgery: The surgeon uses a laparoscope (thin, flexible tube with a lighted camera) inserted through a small incision and miniature instruments inserted through other small incisions to perform the surgery.
  • Robotic surgery: Using a computerized system, the surgeon controls mechanical arms that hold a camera and surgical instruments to perform laparoscopic surgery. The surgeon commands a console that provides a high-definition, magnified 3D view of the surgical site. The robotic arms have a greater range of motion than human hands and wrists, providing greater flexibility for complex, delicate procedures.

At UT Southwestern, our surgeons also:

  • Correct genetic and inherited abdominal wall defects in infants and children, make cosmetic repairs, and fix unsuccessful procedures done elsewhere
  • Treat abdominal walls weakened by injury, accident, prior surgery, pregnancy, or other causes
  • Provide coordinated rehabilitation, follow-up care, and support for each patient
  • Communicate and coordinate care with each patient’s referring physician
  • In some cases, treat the hernia with temporary, noninvasive slings or with medical management    

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