A femoral hernia is classified by its location in the body. When muscles in the femoral canal are weak, they may not be strong enough to hold heavy abdominal tissue which presents as a bulge near the inner thigh or groin.
There is no definitive cause of a femoral hernia, and the condition is often a combination of more than one factor. A femoral hernia is more common in women, many of whom are born with weakened femoral muscles.
Other contributing factors may include:
- Pregnancy and childbirth
- Lifting heavy weights
- Persistent, heavy cough
- Straining from constipation
Symptoms of a femoral hernia vary in intensity depending on its size.
If the hernia is small, the only symptom may be a bulge in the groin or inner thigh area.
Larger and more prominent femoral hernias may cause localised pain, discomfort, and hip pain.
If a femoral hernia has been diagnosed or is suspected, and is accompanied by nausea, or severe pain in the groin, the femoral hernia may have developed into a strangulated or incarcerated hernia, and immediate medical attention is required.
A doctor can diagnose a femoral hernia from a physical examination. If further investigation is required, imaging tests such as an ultrasound or CT scan can provide a more thorough look at the femoral canal.
Ongoing monitoring by a doctor is required after diagnosis of a femoral hernia. If the hernia doesn't cause pain or discomfort, no other treatment may be needed.
If a femoral hernia grows or causes persistent problems, laparoscopic surgery may be recommended. The surgeon will move the hernia back into place and strengthen the femoral canal with a mesh made of synthetics or tissue. Surgery will reduce the risk of a hernia returning in the same place but doesn't guarantee a recurrence in another area.
Treatment outcomes for patients with a femoral hernia are very positive. Surgery is relatively straightforward, and most patients make a full recovery within two weeks.
An incarcerated or strangulated hernia may arise as a complication for patients. This can lead to the blood supply being cut off to the femoral canal and is a life-threatening condition. Emergency surgery will be required which may take up to six weeks recovery.