An inguinal hernia is a hernia in which intestines push through the inguinal canal. This creates a swelling in the groin. Inguinal hernias are very common, especially in men. This is because of the design of men's inguinal canals, through which the testes must descend before birth. Men can suffer from a more severe form of inguinal hernia in which a loop of bowel is forced into the scrotum.
Inguinal hernias can be caused by all of the same things that cause any other hernia. Premature infants are at particular risk of this sort of hernia because their abdominal walls have not fully developed, and are weak.
- Bulge in the groin or scrotum
- Pain in the groin or scrotum
- Defecatory disturbance
- In babies:
- Loss of Appetite
Diagnosis and Treatment
Diagnosis is usually by physical examination. An X-ray may be required to confirm a physicians initial suspicions. If the hernia is small and reductible treatment may not be immediately necessary, but the hernia is likely to enlarge over time. If the hernia causes pain, is large, or strangulated it must be corrected surgically. Strangulated hernias are life threatening, and must be treated as soon as possible. There are several ways in which an inguinal hernia can be fixed.
Herniorrhaphy is a simple surgical replacement of any bowel that is where it shouldn't be, and a sewing up of the hole through which it had protruded. Disadvantages of this method include a greater than average tendency for recurral.
Hernioplasty is a more complicated procedure, but gives a more secure outcome. The defect is repaired in a manner similar to a Herniorrhaphy, but then the weak area is covered with a patch to further strengthen it.
Strangulated hernias may cause necrosis of bowel tissues, and a small loop of bowel may have to be removed to allow normal functions to resume.
Collins medical dictionary