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Ventral Hernia

Procedure overview

hernia occurs when there is a hole in the muscles of the abdominal wall, allowing a loop of intestine or abdominal tissue to push through the muscle layer. A ventral hernia is a hernia that occurs at any location along the midline (vertical center) of the abdomen wall. There are three types of ventral hernia; Epigastric, Umbilical, and Incisional.[1]

An Epigastric (stomach area) hernia happens anywhere from just below the breastbone to the navel (belly button). This type of hernia is seen in both men and women.[1]

An Umbilical (belly button) hernia occurs in the area of the belly button.[1]

An Incisional hernia occurs at the site of a previous surgery. Up to one-third of patients who have had an abdominal surgery will develop an incisional hernia at the site of their scar. This type of hernia can occur anytime from months to years after an abdominal surgery.[1]

Ventral hernia repair surgery can be conducted using one of three methods; open, laparoscopic, and robotic.  The objective of ventral hernia surgery is to repair the hole/defect in the abdominal wall so that the intestine and other abdominal tissue cannot bulge through the wall again.[2]

Figure 1. Ventral Hernia surgical incisions by Treatment Type

Robotic hernia repair is similar to laparoscopic surgery in that it uses a laparoscope, and is performed in the same manner using several small incisions made away from where the hernia has occurred. A laparoscope (a thin lighted tube with a camera on the tip) is inserted through one of the openings to help guide the surgery. A surgical mesh material may be inserted to strengthen the weakened area in the abdominal wall.

Robotic surgery differs from laparoscopic surgery in that the surgeon is seated at a console in the operating room, and handles the surgical instruments from the console. Robotic surgery is used for some smaller hernias, or weak areas, and now also be used to reconstruct the abdominal wall. Some benefits of robotic hernia surgery are that the patient has tiny scars rather than one large incision scar, and there may be less pain after this surgery compared to open surgery.[2]

Learn more about what robotic assisted surgery is and how surgeons use the technology here.

Potential Benefits​

Reported benefits of robotic assisted ventral hernia repair include:

  • Patients who underwent a complex ventral hernia repair with da Vinci stayed in the hospital for less time than patients who underwent an open procedure.[3]
  • Patients who had a da Vinci procedure for non-complex ventral hernia repair stayed in the hospital for less time than patients who had a laparoscopic repair.[3]
  • Patients who had a ventral hernia repair with da Vinci went to their doctor’s clinic fewer times within the first 30 days after their procedure than patients who underwent an open procedure.[3]

Additional Patient Resources

Visit the Canadian Hernia Society for more information including frequently asked questions, how to prepare for surgery and what to expect after surgery.

Canadian Hernia Society for Patients  

Educational Videos

Minimally invasive hernia repair with the da Vinci Surgical System involves less pain, less blood loss and helps patients get back to their lives faster.

Risks & Considerations

Not everyone is a candidate for robotic assisted procedures, and other treatment options may be available and appropriate. Only a doctor can determine whether robotic assisted surgery is appropriate for a patient’s situation. Surgery of any form contains risks and it is important to discuss risks with your provider. Patients and doctors should review all available information on both non-surgical and surgical options in order to make an informed decision.
Patients have also developed support areas where they are able to speak with each other about the surgery, their experiences, and any issues that they have faced during their treatment. To learn more check out the additional resources above or visit the community section of this website.