A hernia happens when a part of the inside of the body is pushed through a weak spot in the surrounding tissue or muscle. Usually, muscles are very strong and tight and they keep all your organs and intestines in place. However, if they are weakened, a hernia can occur, when an unexpected and higher intensity strain si applied on that weaker spot of the body.
Symptoms of Inguinal Hernia
Inguinal hernias are the most common hernias. Usually, it looks like a swelling in the groin area, although in men they also regularly appear on the scrotum. This makes the pouch that holds the testicles look bigger. An inguinal hernia is often painful. Usually, the swelling will suddenly appear as soon as you stand or lift something, but it will go again as soon as you lie down.
Two main types of inguinal hernia exist:
• Indirect inguinal hernia, the most common one, happens at any age and usually appears in the scrotum.
• Direct inguinal hernia, rare in children but common in older men
Inguinal Hernia Causes
Generally, when the fatty tissue on the bowel or the bowel itself starts to poke through your groin, a hernia will appear. More often than not, it is a piece of intestine and it appears at the top part of your inner thigh. Here, it will found a week spot in the abdominal wall and push through into the inguinal canal. This is the channel through which the blood vessels that feed the testicles run. In an inguinal hernia in women, the round ligament passes through here. When people strain, for instance when they are on the toilet, the pressure inside the abdomen can increase, leading to a hernia. It is also common in people who are obese, smokers who have a coughing fit, people who are constipated or those who have to push or carry something very heavy. It is most common for an inguinal hernia to happen in men, because the muscles in their abdomen become weaker with age. An inguinal hernia diagnosis is far more common in men in general.
Inguinal Hernia Treatment
In order to repair an inguinal hernia, surgery is often needed. This pushes the hernia back into place and strengthens the abdominal wall as well. The operation is usually only offered in severe cases, for instance where the hernia stays for extended periods of time or if complications start to occur.
For instance, when a part of the bowel gets stuck in the inguinal canal, it can lead to an obstruction. Patients here will often feel nauseous to the point of vomiting, as well as having severe abdominal pain and pain in their groin. Alternatively, it is possible for the bowel to become trapped and the blood supply to be lost. This is known as a strangulated hernia and can be very dangerous, because the tissue could actually die completely. In this case, surgery is needed on an emergency basis. This is also often the case in a bilateral inguinal hernia, where the hernia is more severe.
Inguinal Hernia Surgery Procedure
There are two types of surgery for inguinal hernias:
• Open surgery means a single cut is made, allowing surgeons to push the hernia back into the abdomen.
• Laparoscopic inguinal hernia repair, which is much less invasive, but far more difficult. Here, lots of small cuts are made and the surgeon uses lots of instruments to return to hernia to its normal position.
Both methods have pros and cons and the type that is recommended to you will depend on your personal situation and on your surgeon. Usually, in both cases, the procedure is performed on an outpatient basis. This means that you can go home to heal the same day. However, you do have to follow the hospital’s recommendations in terms of inguinal hernia recovery and you have to take care not to strain too quickly. You may also have to wear an inguinal hernia belt for a while.
Inguinal Hernia Surgery Risks
All surgeries carry a level of risk with them. This particularly one, however, is a routine operation with very little risk. However, some 1% of patients do have to return after their operation. Some of the rare complications of the surgery include:
• A build-up of fluid or blood in the now empty hernia space (this usually heals over time).
• Testicles that are painful, swelled and bruised,
• A numb or painful groin area, if nerve damage has occurred during surgery.
• Trapped nerves due to stitches, scar tissue or a too tightly applied mesh, which usually only happens in open surgery.