What is an inguinal hernia?
Inguinal hernias typically appear as a bulge in the groin or just above the crease in the groin. Over time, these hernias may progress and enlarge. Though women can get inguinal hernias, they’re more common in men and the hernia may descend into the scrotum.
Inguinal hernias may occur at any age and can be difficult to diagnose. They are often painless, but patients may develop small bulges that disappear and show up again while performing strenuous tasks. The bulge may not be apparent on physical examination during the early stages.
Treating an inguinal hernia
Most hernias should be repaired upon diagnosis. Occasionally, a surgeon may recommend that a hernia not be repaired if the risks to the patient outweigh the potential benefit. However, there are no medications to treat hernias, and they will not repair themselves without surgery.
Hernias are repaired with either conventional open surgery or minimally invasive (laparoscopic) surgical techniques. Most hernias can be repaired with laparoscopic surgery, which is a more appealing option to most patients because of the following advantages:
- Quicker recovery time
- Decreased length of hospital stay
- A quicker return to normal activities
- Fewer incidences of hernia recurrence
- Fewer infections
Many hernias, including inguinal hernias, are repaired with a strong, flexible synthetic material called mesh, which is used to fix the defect or hole in the tissues. Inguinal hernias are usually repaired with mesh because of the dramatically reduced risk of hernia recurrence compared to a sutured mesh repair. Also, groin hernias fixed with mesh are associated with less pain than those fixed without mesh.