A groin (or inguinal) hernia is an external bulge in the groin area. The hernia can be made up of fat, connective tissue, or a part of the intestine. This tissue can bulge through a weak spot in the lower part of the abdomen. It can also come down the canal that connects the scrotum to the main abdominal cavity (inguinal canal).
A groin hernia in children can be caused by:
- A large inguinal canal
- A weakened area in the lower abdominal muscles
Risk factors include:
- A bulge in the groin area—It may be easier to see this bulge when your child is crying. If your child is relaxed, the bulge may look smaller.
- Pain in this area
If the hernia is caught in part of the abdominal wall, your child could have more serious symptoms that require emergency care, such as:
- Severe pain in the groin or abdomen
- Rapid heart beat
- Abdominal swelling
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
These symptoms may be caused by other conditions. Talk to the doctor if your child has any of these.
The doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will also be done. The doctor will be able to feel your child’s hernia. Other conditions (like swelling of the scrotum or an abscess) will be ruled out.
An ultrasound may also be done. This uses sound waves to make pictures of structures in the body.
Most groin hernias require surgery after the diagnosis is made. There are different types of surgeries. For example, the defect in the abdominal wall can be repaired by making a large incision over the hernia site. The doctor may do laparoscopic surgery, where several tiny incisions are made and small tools are used.
If your premature baby has a groin hernia, surgery may be postponed for several months.
- Reviewer: Kari Kassir, MD
- Review Date: 06/2012 -
- Update Date: 00/60/2012 -