Inguinal Hernias

Also known as: hernia, incarcerated hernia.

What are inguinal hernias?

An inguinal hernia is a swelling in the groin area (inguinal canal) which contains bowel. It/they may occur on one or both sides and are most frequently (80-90%) found in boys (more commonly on the right side).

What causes inguinal hernias?

Inguinal hernias are related to the development and descent of the testis from the abdomen to the scrotum, during the 7th month of intrauterine life. The tract the testis takes is through the groin area (inguinal canal). If this passageway remains open, bowel can move down it causing a swelling in the canal (or in the scrotum). A similar process occurs in girls as the uterus moves into its final position.  In some children there is a family history of inguinal hernia. Other risk factors include premature birth, an undescended testis, and cystic fibrosis (very rarely in children a weakness in the abdominal wall may allow intestines to protrude through).

What are the symptoms of inguinal hernias?

A visible bulge/swelling on the outside of the groin (or in the scrotum) which is usually painless (if pain or other symptom is present, a physician should be consulted immediately), and may in a baby be seen during crying or straining.

What are inguinal hernia care options?

Inguinal hernias require surgical repair to prevent complications (incarceration where the bowel is trapped causing strangulation of the bowel).

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: April 09, 2021 04:22 PM