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Hernia and Abdominal Wall Repair

A hernia occurs when part of an internal organ bulges through a weakened muscle, tissue, or membrane that would normally contain it. Men and women of all ages can develop hernias, which are usually caused by a combination of muscle weakness and strain. Though 80 percent of all hernias occur near the groin, they may also be found below the groin, through the navel, and along a previous incision.


At UT Southwestern Medical Center, our physicians will perform a physical exam to determine if you have a hernia and its location. An ultrasound may be needed in some cases.

If you have a blockage in your bowel, our medical professionals will perform an X-ray of your abdomen to determine the extent of the problem. CT scans are also very useful for finding some hernias.

Our medical professionals evaluate and treat the following hernia and abdominal wall conditions:

  • Blockages and strangulations
  • Congenital and acquired hernias in children and adults, including incisional, ventral, epigastric, and umbilical
  • Incarcerated or nonincarcerated hernias


The Hernia and Abdominal Wall Repair Program at UT Southwestern offers a full range of services, including imaging, diagnosis, medical management, noninvasive slings and treatments, and both open and laparoscopic surgery, if needed. Our team also offers expertise in surgically treating abdominal walls weakened due to injury or accident, prior surgery, pregnancy, or other causes.

Surgeons can also correct genetic and inherited abdominal wall defects in infants and children, make cosmetic repairs, and even correct the results of unsuccessful procedures done elsewhere.

There are three main surgical approaches – primary, mesh, and complex. UT Southwestern surgeons have experience with all three types. Your surgeon will look at a variety of factors in deciding the best surgical approach for you. Your overall health, any previous surgeries, your body’s ability to heal, and the size of the hernia are all taken into consideration.

  • Primary repair: Done with sutures placed in a straight line in the abdomen
  • Mesh repair: Involves the use of a prosthetic or biologic mesh when the defect is too large to repair with a primary technique
  • Complex abdominal wall and hernia repair: Uses a combination of primary and mesh techniques

Other types of complex repairs can include use of tissue expansion, free tissue transfer, and even abdominal wall transplantation.


Ronald E. Hoxworth, M.D., helped Kathleen Pritchard resolve her complex abdominal wall hernia that developed after she gave birth to her third child.


After five months of pain and embarrassment, Mark McCoy was eager to resolve the hernia. His doctors, however, proceeded cautiously, recognizing that the surgery would be difficult and carry a high likelihood of complication.

Robotic Surgery for Hernias

Our highly trained robotic surgeons can perform minimally invasive robotic surgery to repair hernias. 

Our Specialists

The program brings together experts in general surgery, imaging and radiology, internal medicine, plastic surgery, pediatrics, and GI/Endocrine surgery to provide the coordinated expertise needed for accurate diagnosis and surgical repair.

The team also works with UT Southwestern physicians in other fields to manage commonly associated risk factors such as obesity, diabetesrespiratory insufficiency, steroids, wound contamination, smoking, and inherited disorders such as Marfan syndrome.

Coordinated visits allow patients to be assessed by the entire team. Complete testing and imaging services are often scheduled in a centralized location during the same visit, reducing unnecessary visits as well as scheduling and travel hassles. We also offer coordinated rehabilitation, follow-up care, and patient support along with priority communication and coordination with our referring physicians.

Patient Information

Read our Hernia and Abdominal Wall Repair Program FAQ sheet for more information about hernias and our program.

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