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Inguinal Hernia in Children

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The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Dec 2019| Content last modified Dec 2019
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What is an inguinal hernia?

A hernia is a hole or weak spot in muscles. Sometimes organs in your belly, most likely part of the intestines, push through this spot.

The inguinal area is the skin crease between the top of the leg and the belly. The muscles in this area are sometimes weak and have an opening that lets your child’s intestine bulge out.

  • Inguinal hernia is more common in boys, especially if they were premature babies

  • The bulge is more common on the right side of the body, but sometimes there's a bulge on both sides

  • Doctors usually do surgery to fix the hernia

What are the symptoms of an inguinal hernia?

Inguinal hernias usually cause a soft bulge. The bulge may be there all the time or only during coughing or straining when passing stool. Sometimes, there's no bulge but the doctor can feel a hole in the muscle.

What are the complications of inguinal hernias?

Sometimes part of the intestine becomes trapped in the scrotum, and the bulge becomes firm, tender, and red. The intestine's blood supply may shut off (a condition called strangulation), which is very painful and dangerous.

Go to the hospital right away if you think your child has a trapped inguinal hernia.

How can doctors tell if my child has an inguinal hernia?

Doctors can tell by examining your child. Sometimes to know for sure they'll do tests such as:

  • Ultrasound

  • CT scan

How to doctors treat inguinal hernias in children?

Because of the chance of having a complication, doctors usually do:

  • Surgery

Sometimes doctors try to push the intestine back into place using their hands.

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