Inguinal Hernia

Definition: A condition in which a loop of intestine enters the inguinal canal, a tubular passage through the lower layers of the abdominal wall.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors: Usually, there is no apparent cause of a hernia, although it is commonly thought to be the result of lifting a heavy object. A hernia occurs when part of an organ protrudes through a weak point or tear in the thin muscular wall that holds the abdominal organs in place. In men, a hernia can develop at the point where the spermatic cord passes out of the abdomen into the scrotum.

A direct inguinal hernia creates a bulge in the groin area, and an indirect hernia descends into the scrotum. Inguinal hernias occur less often in women than men.

Symptoms: Groin discomfort or groin pain aggravated by bending or lifting a tender groin lump or scrotum lump. In children, persistent crying may be the only other sign besides a mass.

Signs and tests: A physical examination confirms the presence of the hernia. The mass may increase in size when coughing, bending, lifting, or straining.

Treatment: An inguinal hernia can often be pushed back into the abdominal cavity. However, if it cannot be forced back through the abdominal wall, the herniated bowel may become trapped in the inguinal ring or strangulated.

Without treatment, the strangulated loop of intestine dies, because its blood supply is compromised. Surgery to reposition the loop of intestine and secure the weakened muscles in the abdomen is usually indicated.

Medications: There are no medications to treat inguinal hernias, however, medications may be prescribed to manage the pain associated with surgical repair.

Surgery: Hernia repair is performed as an outpatient procedure using local or general anesthesia. You will return from surgery with a small dressing over the surgical site. This dressing will remain in place for a day or two. Potential complications of this procedure include infection and abscess formation, and reoccurrence of the hernia. Injury to the testicle is rare.

Expectations (prognosis): The outcome is expected to be good with treatment.

As with any procedure we perform, your child's safety and well-being our #1 priority.  As always, feel free to contact us with any question that you have.  We would be happy to answer it for you.