Standard teaching has been to approach chronic diaphragmatic hernias (CDH) via a thoracotomy. It has been our experience that CDH can be safely approached via an abdominal incision. The objective of this study was to evaluate the outcome of patients undergoing the transabdominal approach for repair of CDH and comparing the outcome with that of patients undergoing a transthoracic (TT) approach. This is a retrospective chart review and was performed of patients with CDH secondary to trauma. Patient demographics, presenting symptoms, operative approach, and complications were collected. Patients were stratified by the surgical approach, TA versus TT. The endpoints of analysis were need for second incision, intraoperative and postoperative complications (enterotomies, pneumonia), need for a chest tube, mechanical ventilation postoperatively, and ICU and hospital days. Twenty-eight patients with CDH repairs performed between Jan 1993 and Dec 2002 were identified. Nineteen patients were in the TA group, and nine were in the TT group. Patients in the TA group had a higher incidence of emergent surgery (68% vs 11%, P = 0.005) and had a lower incidence of postoperative pneumonia (0% vs 33%, P = 0.009). No case of enteric injury from lysis of adhesions in the chest was identified. The need for a second incision (11%), the mortality (11%), ICU stay, and hospital stay were the same between the two groups. It appears that repair of CDH can be performed safely through an abdominal approach.