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Bilateral Inguinal Hernia In Newborns: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors And Treatments

A bilateral inguinal hernia is a type of inguinal hernia characterised by swelling or bump on both sides of the lower abdomen. It is also known as groin hernia as the swelling is present near the groins. When children have a bilateral inguinal hernia, it is usually congenital or present from birth.

According to a study, the incidence of inguinal hernias in premature and low-birth babies is 44 -55 per cent with 3.5 - 5 per cent in full-term infants. Also, the incidence of bilateral inguinal hernias is 15 per cent. This says that newborns with pregnancy complications such as low birth weight are at higher risk of bilateral inguinal hernias. [1]

The prevalence of bilateral inguinal hernias is more in males compared to females. In males, the swelling is caused in the scrotum while in females, it occurs in the labia. In females, however, the chances are very less.

Bilateral inguinal hernia is not a life-threatening condition with no bothersome symptoms and can easily be treated with medications or surgery. However, some children can feel a sharp pulling pain while crying or straining. [2]

In this article, we will discuss bilateral inguinal hernia and related details. Take a look.

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Causes Of Bilateral Inguinal Hernia

A bilateral inguinal hernia is caused when the inguinal canal remains slight open when a male baby is born. When a male baby is in the womb, his testicles remain inside the abdomen. As soon as he is born, the testicles slide to the pouch of skin called the scrotum. The testicles slide from the stomach to the scrotum through the inguinal canal, which then closes to prevent the testicles from moving back to the stomach.

Inguinal hernia is formed when the slight opening in the inguinal canal causes the fat tissues or parts of the bowel to move out through the gaps and cause swelling.

The term 'bilateral' is used with inguinal hernia when the bulging happens on both sides of the scrotum. The bulging on both sides could be uniform or different.

In girls, a bilateral inguinal hernia is rare. It happens when the fallopian tube or ovary fall into the hernia sac and cause swelling. The swelling happens in the labia, which are skin folds around the vaginal opening.

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Symptoms Of Bilateral Inguinal Hernia

  • Bulging on both the sides of the lower abdomen or groin in males and bulging of the labia in females. [3]
  • Pain, burning or pinching sensation.
  • Discomfort to the baby when crying or coughing or lifting.
  • Fever
  • Irreducibility
  • Irritability
  • Frequent crying due to pain or discomfort.
  • Low appetite and low consumption of water.
  • Vomiting.
  • Redness in the hernia sac.

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Risk Factors Of Bilateral Inguinal Hernia

  • Family history of inguinal hernias. [4]
  • Children born with reduced lung functions.
  • Being male.
  • Belonging to the white race.
  • Born with any pregnancy complications such as low birth weight or premature birth.

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Complications Of Bilateral Inguinal Hernia

Hernia, if left untreated in children, can cause symptoms like severe pain, increased swelling, frequent vomiting, inability to pass gas, lifelong damage to the intestine and even death if the swelling prevents the blood flow in some parts of the intestine.

Diagnosis Of Bilateral Inguinal Hernia

In many cases, bilateral inguinal hernia in babies is recognised by the parents during crying or straining. Also, in a routine examination, this hernia type gets recognised. The condition is confirmed with a CT scan or X-ray of the abdominal area, followed by examining the history of hernias in the family.

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Treatments Of Bilateral Inguinal Hernia

In babies, a bilateral inguinal hernia is always treated with surgery. The surgery takes place urgently in some newborns while in some, it may be delayed, depending on the severity of the condition.

Also, the age of newborns is taken into consideration. If the baby born is preterm or premature, the surgery could be delayed as the risk is more in such cases.

The surgery is done within a day. A tiny cut is made in the skin and the opening is sewed with neighbouring tissues. Laparoscopic surgery or keyhole surgery could also be used. [2]

Few complications related to surgery are swelling of the scrotum, wound infection, injury to the vas deferens and recurrence of the hernia after a few months.

However, the evidence of these complications is very low. Also, when such complications arise, they could easily be treated with medications. [3]

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To Conclude

Bilateral inguinal hernia is a common congenital condition in newborns which can easily be treated if diagnosed at an early stage. The condition also does not cause any sexual problems at a later stage, but is life-threatening when not treated at an early stage.

Therefore, look out for the aforementioned symptoms in your babies and if needed, seek help at the earliest.

Story first published: Tuesday, April 20, 2021, 17:26 [IST]