Dr. Rebecca Peterson (left), surgery, and medical team during a hernia surgery at the UW Medicine Hernia Center

The UW Medicine Hernia Center, located on the Northwest Hospital campus, is a dedicated program offering the full range of surgical solutions to repair hernias and relieve associated pain.

A hernia describes an internal organ or other structure protruding through the body cavity in which it is normally contained. Holes develop in surrounding tissue for three basic reasons: genetic weakness, a failure of tissue to fully knit during a baby’s development before birth, and failure of the body to heal adequately after surgery.

Hernia repair is among the most common surgical procedures; millions are performed worldwide every year. In fact, one in four men develops an inguinal hernia in his lifetime.

Most hernia repairs are, by surgeons’ standards, relatively straightforward and uncomplicated. Some, however, are more complex because of their size or because they occur at the site of a previous surgical incision that has not healed adequately.

For decades, hernias have been managed by all general surgeons, but now top-tier medical systems are recognizing the value of stand-alone hernia centers, staffed with physicians equally adept at open surgery and minimally invasive techniques. Minimally invasive surgery such as laparoscopy is generally better for patients — less pain, faster recovery — but it demands additional training for the surgeon.

UW Medicine’s designated hernia specialists have acquired significant experience in hernia repair, both open and laparoscopic, and perform hundreds of procedures per year. They have become experts in navigating the anatomy of the abdomen and pelvis. These regions encompass nerves, vital blood vessels, muscles, digestive and waste systems and reproductive organs.

The UW Medicine Hernia Center offers the following procedures to repair hernias:

  • Hiatal hernia
  • Inguinal hernia
  • Femoral hernia
  • Umbilical hernia
  • Ventral-incisional hernia