Inguinal Hernia (Groin): What Is It, Signs, Symptoms, Treatments, Surgery

Inguinal hernia is the most common type of hernia. It occurs at the bottom of the abdomen and can appear in adulthood or at birth. But how to recognize it and how to treat it?

Inguinal Hernia (Groin): What Is It, Signs, Symptoms, Treatments, Surgery
Inguinal Hernia (Groin): What Is It, Signs, Symptoms, Treatments, Surgery

Definition: What Is An Inguinal Hernia?

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An inguinal hernia is a lump under the skin of the groin, between the abdomen and the thigh. It occurs when the intestine protrudes from its location through an abdominal orifice. This hole may be the deep inguinal orifice, a hole in the abdominal wall allowing the vessels and ligaments to pass. It is surrounded by muscles of the abdominal wall. However, these muscles sometimes relax and increase the diameter of the orifice. A mass can then be visible in the groin. However, the inguinal hernia can also come from another orifice, like a rupture of the peritoneum (wall of the abdomen) caused by repeated straining.

Inguinal hernia is the most common hernia. Only one side of the body is usually affected but bilateral inguinal hernias also exist. Finally, children may also have an inguinal hernia, but this is called congenital inguinal hernia.

Causes: What Is The Reason For The Inguinal Hernia?

Congenital inguinal hernia may be present in children from birth, especially in small boys. Sometimes their peritoneal-vaginal canal (allowing migration of the testes from the abdomen to the stock exchanges during the growth of the fetus) remains open instead of closing before birth. A portion of the intestine can then enter and create a hernia. The inguinal hernia appears in adulthood. It can be caused by repeated straining, carrying heavy loads, obesity, chronic cough or constipation.

Symptoms: How To Detect An Inguinal Hernia?

The hernia is often asymptomatic (without symptoms), however it can evolve and cause certain symptoms such as:

- swelling in the groin

- pain when the person bends down, carries a heavy object, stretches or coughs

- a burning sensation

In case of strangulation of the intestine, the pains become very strong, the person will experience nausea, may vomit, and will experience constipation. This constitutes a medical emergency and requires hospitalization as soon as possible.

Treatment: How To Treat An Inguinal Hernia?

The so-called reducible hernias only require a simple procedure and then monitoring. For other hernias, surgery is the only option. Regarding surgical operations, there are several types. At first, the so-called "open-air" surgery, where the surgeon opens the abdomen in the axis of the hernia, then removes the hernia sac after isolating it and reconstructs the wall with muscular and fibrous elements. The operation can also be done by laparoscopy. These techniques, which are more frequent today, have several advantages: the patient recovers better, has less pain and has only a small scar. The duration of hospitalization is also shorter. Nevertheless, these types of interventions require general anaesthesia. The choice of technique is based on the size of the hernia, its location but also according to the state and preferences of the patient. After surgery, the risk of recurrence is less than 5%.

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