The inguinal canal is located near the abdomen.
An inguinal hernia is a bulge in the inguinal canal formed by intestinal tissue that can't be supported by a weakened abdominal wall.
An indirect inguinal hernia follows the path into the scrotum; a direct inguinal hernia doesn't.
A weakened abdominal wall caused by any number of factors may not sustain the pressure of the intestinal tissue which then protrudes through the wall into the inguinal canal.
Risk factors include, but are not limited to, pregnancy, obesity, heavy lifting, straining from coughing or constipation, or a previous hernia.
Some inguinal hernias have no signs apart from a bulge in the groin area that can be pushed back into place.
In more severe cases, an inguinal hernia can be classified by pressure in the groin, pain in the testicles, or a bulge that becomes more obvious or painful when lifting of coughing.
Inguinal hernias in infants are more noticeable when they cry or cough.
Diagnosis takes place after a physical examination by a doctor. If further analysis is required, imaging from an ultrasound or CT scan may be requested.
An inguinal hernia can often be manipulated back into place, and the patient will require no treatment.
For those where an inguinal hernia causes ongoing pain or disruption to lifestyle, laparoscopic or open surgery may be recommended.
The hernia will be moved back into place, and the area strengthened to reduce the chance of recurrence.
In most cases, treatment of an inguinal hernia is relatively straightforward, and the hernia can simply be moved back into place.
In severe cases, the intestinal tissue may become stuck which can lead to an incarcerated hernia. Immediate medical attention is necessary for an incarcerated hernia to ensure the blood supply to the intestine isn't cut off. If you have an inguinal hernia and sudden or severe pain in the groin, a fever, or vomiting, seek immediate medical attention.