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To establish which patients suffering ventral hernia benefit the most from laparoscopic approach.From January 2005 to October 2008, 126 patients underwent surgery due to incisional hernia at our University Hospital. Patients were assigned to laparoscopic surgery (n=60) or conventional surgery (n=66) at the surgeon's discretion. Patients were subdivided according to the greater diameter of the defect: (G1, defect <5 cm; G2, defect 5 to 15 cm; and G3, defect >15 cm). Data on patient demographic, clinical, and perioperative variables were collected prospectively.Groups were comparable in terms of sex, body mass index, American Society of Anesthesiologists score, size of defect, and proportion of primary repairs. Four patients were converted to open surgery. Mean hospital stay in the group with the smaller hernias (G1 was 3.16 d laparoscopic surgery vs. 2.87 d conventional surgery, P>0.05). Hospital stay for patients who underwent laparoscopy was shorter in G3 (4.25 d Lap vs. 12.6 d Open; P=0.02).Patients with very large incisional hernias are those who benefit the most from laparoscopic treatment.