Identifying Hernias


“Parents will typically notice a bulge in the groin or abdominal wall, where there shouldn’t be one,” says CHOC pediatric surgeon Dr. Troy Reyna. This may be a hernia, and if so, it’s caused by tissue that is protruding through a hole in the musculature. The areas around the groin and belly button are the two most common regions for hernias in babies and young children. “They should be evaluated promptly by a specialist,” Dr. Reyna says.


Umbilical hernias are what we call “outies,” Dr. Reyna says. This is a bulge in the belly button and it may not be seen until the baby’s umbilical cord falls off. Umbilical hernias are among the more common hernias in babies and are often present at birth, says Dr. Reyna. They typically aren’t painful or dangerous, but on occasion they might cause pain. “About 75-80 percent of umbilical hernias will close on their own by age two without treatment as the baby grows and develops anti-gravity muscles. If it’s still there when the baby is two, then you can see about getting it fixed,” Dr. Reyna says.


“The best way to diagnose a hernia is by sight,” says Dr. Reyna. “Some of these hernias can come and go and may not be noticeable all the time. The nice thing nowadays is that with cellphone cameras, parents are starting to take pictures of these bulges and are documenting them. This can help a doctor to see one when it might not be present at another time.” He advises parents who notice a bulge or think their child may have a hernia to seek a medical evaluation.

Meet Dr Reyna - CHOC Pediatric Surgeon

Dr. Reyna is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point in New York. He completed his surgical internship at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. and his surgical residency at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu. Dr. Reyna served his Pediatric Surgery fellowship at Columbus Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. He retired from the U.S. Army as a colonel after serving as an officer for 21 years, including during Operation Desert Storm. Dr. Reyna is a faculty member and instructor of Advanced Trauma Life Support with the American College of Surgeons.

Dr. Reyna’s philosophy of care: “Every child deserves to have a happy and healthy childhood and grow up accordingly.”

Georgetown University School of Medicine, Washington D.C.

General Surgery
Pediatric Surgery

Dr. Troy Reyna

Dr. Troy Reyna
CHOC Pediatric Surgeon 

Hernia Repair: Quick and Common

When hernias in children don’t close by themselves, surgeons can repair the protrusion caused by an organ or tissue pushing through an opening or a weak spot in the abdominal wall, a CHOC pediatric general surgeon says.

A common procedure, hernia repair is typically an outpatient surgery, meaning the child can go home the same day as the surgery after a few hours of recovery.

Cute smiling toddler boy

Hernias and Children: Dr. Reyna, CHOC Pediatric Surgeon

In this video, Dr. Troy Reyna, a CHOC pediatric surgeon, explains more about hernias, including the various types, the difference between a hernia in a child and adult, and the difference among boys and girls. Dr. Reyna also discusses when hernias should be repaired and what repair procedures entail. For more information, go to

Hernias in Children: What Parents Should Know

Spotting a lump or bump on a child’s body would be scary for any parent, but mom and dad can rest assured: Hernias are common and their repair is among the most common procedures performed on kids Dr. Mustafa Kabeer, a CHOC pediatric general surgeon says.

Hernias occur when part of an organ or tissue pushes through an opening or a weak spot in the abdominal wall and creates a protrusion which is visually present. Children with hernias are often born with them, and when a hernia is first noticed depends on when enough pressure is generated to allow other tissues to protrude through the weakened area.

Father holding and smiling at his young son

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