Inguinal hernia repair is one of the most performed operations in the United States of America. A hernia is a bulge that appears in either the groin or the abdomen when an organ (usually the small intestine) pushes through an opening or weakened area in the muscle or tissue, such as the abdominal wall, that generally holds it in place. In men, a typical inguinal hernia appears in the groin area. There are two types of inguinal hernias, direct and indirect. The direct inguinal hernia results from the weakening of abdominal muscles and occurs only in men. Conditions such as obesity, coughing and heavy lifting may contribute to the formation of an inguinal hernia.
An indirect inguinal hernia is a congenital condition that, while more common in men, can also occur in women. They occur when, right after delivery, a baby’s inguinal ring doesn’t close properly, leaving a weakness in the abdominal wall. This leaves an opening for the small intestine or fat to get caught and protrude. If either type of hernia becomes stuck and can’t be pushed back into the abdomen, it is called an incarcerated hernia. If it swells too much, it can become “strangulated,” a condition where blood flow to the small intestine may be cut off. This is a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention.
Generally, the first sign of inguinal hernia is a small bulge on the groin area between the loser abdomen and the thigh. It can occur on one or both sides. Though it may continue to grow, it tends not to show when lying down. Other symptoms include:
- Pain or discomfort when coughing, lifting, exercising or straining in any way. The pain may improve with rest.
- Burning, heaviness, aching, etc. in the groin area.
- Swollen or enlarged scrotum.
Symptoms of a strangulated inguinal hernia:
- Extreme tenderness/redness on or near bulge
- Sudden onset of pain that continues to worsen
- Rapid pulse
When inguinal hernias affect infants or children, surgery is required to prevent incarceration from occurring. In adults, sometimes a doctor can massage the hernia back in to place. Surgery becomes necessary if the hernia is growing and/or causing pain. Hernia surgery can be done with open hernia repair, requiring an incision or with robotic surgery.Previous Page Last Review Date: June 9, 2020