With an inguinal hernia, fat tissue or small parts of the intestine bulge through weak spots of the abdominal wall.
Though some inguinal hernias have no cause, others may be sparked by contributing factors. These include increased pressure in the abdominal region, pregnancy, continuous coughing, and a weakened abdominal wall that has been present since birth.
Strenuous activities and straining during urination or bowel movements can also be a cause.
In men, the weakened area of the abdominal wall is usually located in the inguinal canal. This is the place where the spermatic cord connects to the scrotum. For women, the inguinal canal houses the ligament that helps to hold the uterus in place. Though rare, hernias sometimes happen here due to connective tissue from the uterus attaching to tissue that encompasses the pelvic bone.
Symptoms of Inguinal Hernias
If you believe that you or someone that you care for may have an inguinal hernia, then there are signs to be aware of. In infants, signs of the hernia may only be apparent when the child is crying, coughing, or straining during bowel movements. Irritability and loss of appetite will also be present. In older kids, signs become visible during coughing, long periods of standing, and strenuous bowel movements.
Sometimes, the hernia becomes more serious. This happens with the contents of the hernia become stuck in the abdominal wall and strangulation occurs. This is a life-threatening situation. If a person is suffering from a strangulated hernia, then they will experience nausea and vomiting, fever, sudden pain that strengthens quickly, a bulge that becomes discolored, and the lack of ability to pass gas or move bowels.
If symptoms are present, then the best course of action is to see a doctor. Physicians will check the groin area for swelling or a noticeable bulge. If this first line examination is inconclusive, then imagining tests such as ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI will be performed on the abdominal area to provide a more conclusive view of the area.
If the hernia is still relatively small and not painful, then a high fiber diet may be prescribed to eliminate any strenuous bowel movements. If things become a bit more serious and surgery is required, then there are two types that are utilized to address this condition.
The first type is open hernia repair surgery. During this procedure, the surgeon makes an incision in the groin to expose the hernia. The surgeon then pushes the hernia back through the abdominal wall and stitches of the weakened area.
The other option is laparoscopy. This is a minimally invasive surgery that is performed through tiny incisions in the abdomen. A small tubed camera is inserted into one incision to see, while the surgical instruments are inserted into the other incision to perform the work. This procedure has a faster healing time and less scarring than open surgery.