What is an inguinal hernia?

An inguinal hernia occurs when the intestines or fat from the abdomen bulge through the lower abdominal wall into the inguinal, or groin, area.

There are 2 types of inguinal hernias:

Indirect inguinal hernias: This type of hernia is caused by a birth defect in the abdominal wall that is congenital (present at birth).
Direct inguinal hernias: This type of hernia usually occurs in adult males. These are most often caused by a weakness in the muscles of the abdominal wall that develops over time,
or are due to straining or heavy lifting.
Hernias can be on one or both sides of the abdomen. Direct inguinal hernias are more common later in life because the abdominal wall weakens with age.

An inguinal hernia is usually not dangerous. However, it can be painful, especially when lifting, bending, straining with a bowel movement, or coughing. Direct inguinal hernias usually occur
in adult males whose abdominal muscles have weakened.

Do all inguinal hernias require surgery?
Sometimes a healthcare provider can push or “reduce” a small inguinal hernia back into the abdomen with gentle massage. If this does not work, surgery may be needed.

An inguinal hernia does not get better or go away on its own. If you are diagnosed with an inguinal hernia, your physician will likely recommend surgery.

How is an inguinal hernia repaired?
Inguinal hernia repair is a common surgical procedure. Inguinal hernia surgery is also called herniorrhaphy or hernioplasty. There are 3 types of inguinal hernia repair:

Open hernia repair: A surgical procedure in which an incision, or cut, is made in the groin. The surgeon then pushes the hernia back into the abdomen and strengthens the abdominal wall
with mesh and stitches. This surgery may be done under local anesthesia for the abdominal area, or general anesthesia in which you will be put to sleep.
Minimally invasive or laparoscopic hernia repair: A less invasive surgical procedure in which the surgeon makes small, half-inch cuts in the lower abdomen and inserts a laparoscope
(a thin tube with a tiny video camera attached). The laparoscope sends images to a video monitor and the surgeon to repairs the hernia through the small incisions.
Robotic hernia repair: Like laparoscopic surgery, robotic surgery uses a laparoscope, and is performed in the same manner (small incisions, a tiny camera and projecting the inside
of the abdomen onto television screens).
Robotic surgery differs from laparoscopic surgery in that the surgeon is seated at a console in the operating room, and handles the surgical instruments from the console.
While robotic surgery can be used for some smaller hernias, or weak areas, it can now also be used to reconstruct the abdominal wall.


An inguinal (IN-gwa-nul) hernia is an internal opening in the inguinal canal, which is located within the abdominal or belly wall. In boys, the inguinal canal is a passageway between the
abdomen and the scrotum—the sac of skin that holds the testicles on the outside of the body. The testicles are attached to a cord called the spermatic cord, which passes through the
inguinal canal. Before birth, a baby boy’s testicles are located high inside his belly. As the baby develops inside the mother, his testicles drop down through this passageway into the scrotum.
In girls, the inguinal canal is the passageway for a ligament that holds the uterus in place. Whether in a boy or a girl, the passageway or opening usually closes up by itself before the
baby is born. If it does not, a pouch may form in the inner lining of the belly. That pouch is called an inguinal hernia.

Fast Facts About Inguinal Hernia Repair
-An inguinal hernia is an opening in the belly (abdominal) wall near the groin. Fluid or intestines can pass through this opening if it is left untreated.
-Because an inguinal hernia will not go away by itself, surgery is always needed.
-Your child’s surgery will be done under general anesthesia, which means that he will be sound asleep during the surgery.
-In addition to the general anesthesia, your child may receive caudal anesthesia, which will give pain relief in the area below the waist.
-A pediatric urology doctor—a specialist in surgery of the urinary tract and reproductive organs of children—will do your child’s inguinal hernia repair.
-This surgery takes between 30 minutes to 1 hour.