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Inguinal Hernia in Children

By

William J. Cochran

, MD, Geisinger Clinic

Last full review/revision Aug 2021| Content last modified Aug 2021
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A hernia is a protrusion of a piece of the intestine through an abnormal opening in the abdominal wall. An inguinal hernia occurs in the groin (the inguinal area).

  • A piece of intestine protrudes through a hole in the groin.

  • Typically, children develop a painless bulge in the groin or scrotum.

  • The diagnosis is based on an examination and imaging tests.

  • Usually, the hernia is repaired surgically.

A hernia in the groin is called an inguinal hernia (see Figure: What Is an Inguinal Hernia? What Is an Inguinal Hernia? A hernia is a protrusion of a piece of the intestine through an abnormal opening in the abdominal wall. An inguinal hernia occurs in the groin (the inguinal area). A piece of intestine protrudes... read more What Is an Inguinal Hernia? ). Inguinal hernias are more common among boys, particularly those who are premature. The right side is affected most commonly, and about 10% of inguinal hernias occur on both sides of the groin. An inguinal hernia extends into the groin and can extend into the scrotum. With an inguinal hernia, the opening in the abdominal wall can be present from birth or develop later in life.

What Is an Inguinal Hernia?

In an inguinal hernia, a loop of intestine pushes through an opening in the abdominal wall into the inguinal canal. The inguinal canal contains the spermatic cord, which consists of the vas deferens, blood vessels, nerves, and other structures. Before birth, the testes, which are formed in the abdomen, pass through the inguinal canal as they descend into the scrotum.

What Is an Inguinal Hernia?

Symptoms of Inguinal Hernia

Inguinal hernias usually cause a painless bulge in the groin or scrotum.

Complications of inguinal hernia

Sometimes a portion of the intestine is trapped in the scrotum (called incarceration), and the bulge may become firm, tender, swollen, and red. If the intestine becomes trapped, the intestine’s blood supply can be cut off (called strangulation). Strangulated intestine may die (develop gangrene) within hours, and this condition is an emergency.

Diagnosis of Inguinal Hernia

Treatment of Inguinal Hernia

  • Surgical repair

Because inguinal hernias can become incarcerated, doctors usually advise surgery. Before surgery, doctors may try to push the intestine back into place by hand (called manual reduction). If the hernia is strangulated or incarcerated, surgery is done immediately.

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Preventive Health Care Visits in Infants
Frequent doctor visits are recommended for all infants younger than 1 year of age. These visits, also called well-child visits, make it possible to check development, look for health problems, provide age-appropriate vaccinations, and educate parents. Which of the following is a condition that might affect some infants born very prematurely, with less than 32 weeks of development in the uterus?
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