What is inguinal hernia?
An inguinal hernia occurs when part
of an internal organ bulges through a weak area of muscle that forms the wall
of the abdomen at the groin. This may
result in a visible groin bulge or (in males) a bulge or mass within the
scrotum. The bulge may hurt or burn at
times. Although a groin hernia is the
most common form of hernia are other types of hernias, there are other types of
- Umbilical, a bulge around the belly button
- Incisional, a bulge through a scar
- Hiatal, a small opening in the diaphragm that allows
the upper part of the stomach to move up into the chest.
diaphragmatic, a birth defect that needs surgery
Most inguinal hernias happen because
an opening in the muscle wall does not close as it should before birth. That
leaves a weak area in the belly muscle. Pressure on that area can cause tissue
to push through and bulge out. A hernia can occur soon after birth or much
later in life.
The main symptom of an inguinal
hernia is a bulge in the groin or scrotum. It often feels like a round lump.
The bulge may form over a period of weeks or months. The hernia may be painful,
but some hernias cause a bulge without pain.
A hernia also may cause swelling and
a feeling of heaviness, tugging, or burning in the area of the hernia. These
symptoms may get better when you lie down.
Sudden pain, nausea, and vomiting
are signs that a part of your intestine may have become trapped in the hernia.
Untreated hernias can cause pain and health problems.
A doctor can confirm the presence of
a hernia during a physical exam. The mass may increase in size when coughing,
bending, lifting, or straining. The hernia (bulge) may not be obvious in
infants and children, except when the child is crying or coughing.
The usual treatment for a hernia is
surgery to repair the opening in the muscle wall. There are various surgical
strategies which may be considered in the planning of inguinal hernia repair.
These include the consideration of mesh use, type of open repair, and use of
laparoscopy, a more minimally invasive approach to abdominal surgery.
However, smaller hernias with no
symptoms can sometimes be watched. Most people with hernias have surgery to
repair them, even if they do not have symptoms. This is because many doctors
believe surgery is less dangerous than strangulation, a serious problem that
occurs when part of your intestine gets trapped inside the hernia.
Babies and young children are more
likely to have tissue get trapped in a hernia. If your child has a hernia, he
or she will need surgery to repair it.
of Pediatric General Surgery at Johns Hopkins Children's Center treats inguinal hernias.