Inguinal hernias are protrusions of soft tissue, such as a portion of the intestine, through a weak spot in a muscle, usually in the abdominal wall. Inguinal hernias occur where the abdomen meets the thigh in the groin region. Anyone can have an inguinal hernia. Men, women and even children of all ages experience hernias. Inguinal hernias account for about 80% of all hernias and are the most common surgical procedures done in infancy.
Typically men are about 10 times more likely to get an inguinal hernia than women Hernias are weaknesses or tears in the wall of the abdomen They typically occur two ways: first, by wear and tear over time (acquired hernias) and secondly from a weakness in the abdominal wall that is present at birth (congenital hernia).
The danger from herniation arises when the organ protruding through the opening is constricted to the extent that circulation is stopped or when the protruding organ impairs the function of other structures. In males, they are caused by an improper closure of the abdominal cavity during the body's development in the womb. They can also be caused by an increase in pressure within the abdominal cavity due to heavy lifting, straining, violent coughing, obesity or pregnancy
What are the symptoms of hernia?
- Lump in groin area when standing/straining & disappears when reclining
- Pain at the site of the lump, especially when lifting a heavy object
- Swelling of the scrotum
- Excruciating abdominal pain (if you have strangulation)
- Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite & pain (if intestinal obstruction occurs)
If the hernia can be pushed back into the abdominal cavity, it is referred to as a reducible hernia, which while not an immediate health threat, will require surgery to disappear. If it cannot be pushed back, it is non-reducible. This is a condition that may lead to dangerous complications such as the obstruction of the flow of the intestinal contents or intestinal blood supply (strangulation), leading to tissue death. Intestinal obstruction produces nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, is very painful and requires immediate surgery.
While most hernias are easily treated, in about one in ten people, even after treatment they may return and need to be repaired again. Recurrent hernias are not an indication of your surgeon's ability, but indicate poor tissue healing or trauma to the site of the repair.
What is the treatment?
Patients with inguinal hernias can wear a special type of belt, called a truss, to support the hernia and keep it from bulging out. They should also avoid any activities that cause abdominal strain. However, most patients elect surgery to repair inguinal hernias and avoid the possibility of a strangulated hernia. The procedure to repair a hernia involves pushing the piece of intestine back into place and repairing the abdominal wall so the intestine cannot push through again.
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