Hernia

  • Alternative Names

    Hernia - inguinal; Inguinal hernia; Rupture; Strangulation; Incarceration


    Treatment

    Surgery is the only treatment that can permanently fix a hernia. However, smaller hernias with no symptoms can sometimes be watched. Surgery may have more risk for patients with serious medical problems.

    Surgery will usually be used for hernias that are getting larger or are painful. Surgery secures the weakened abdominal wall tissue (fascia) and will close any holes. Today, most hernias are closed with cloth patches to plug up the holes.

    An umbilical hernia that fails to heal on its own by the time your child is 5 years old may be repaired.

    Emergency surgery is sometimes needed. The sac containing the intestine or other tissue may become stuck in the hole in the abdominal wall. If it cannot be pushed back through, this can lead to a strangulated loop of intestine. If left untreated, this portion of the intestine dies because it loses its blood supply.

    Instead of open surgery, some hernias can be repaired using a laparoscope (camera). The advantages of using a camera include small surgical cuts, faster recovery, and less pain after the procedure.

    For information on hernia surgery, see also:

    • Femoral hernia repair
    • Inguinal hernia repair
    • Umbilical hernia repair

    Expectations (prognosis)

    The outcome is usually good with treatment. Recurrence is rare (1-3%).


    Complications

    In rare cases, inguinal hernia repair can damage structures involved in the function of a man's testicles.

    Another risk of hernia surgery is nerve damage, which can lead to numbness in the groin area.

    The biggest risk of hernia surgery is another hernia, which may occur years later.


    Calling your health care provider

    Call your doctor right away if:

    • You have a painful hernia and the contents cannot be pushed back into the abdomen using gentle pressure
    • You develop nausea, vomiting, or a fever along with a painful hernia
    • You have a hernia that becomes red, purple, dark, or discolored

    Call your doctor if:

    • You have groin pain, swelling, or a bulge
    • You have a bulge or swelling in the groin or belly button, or that is associated with a previous surgical cut.