Inguinal hernia surgeon Gold Coast
Inguinal hernias occur in the inguinal canal, which is a natural passageway in the lower abdomen above the groin. On this page, we will explain what they are and how they are treated.
Inguinal hernia explained
What are inguinal hernias?
When you have an inguinal hernia, tissue from inside your abdomen pokes through a weak spot of the inguinal canal. The inguinal canal is a natural passageway in the lower abdomen just above the groin. This area can weaken over time and if the muscles there give way under strain, it can result in an inguinal hernia.
Inguinal hernias are quite common. They are more prevalent in men, due to the way the male testicles descend through the inguinal canal during development, leaving a naturally weaker area in the abdominal wall.
A previous hernia, chronic coughing, obesity, a premature birth, heavy lifting and straining during bowel movements are factors that can increase the risk of developing an inguinal hernia.
Inguinal hernia symptoms
While an inguinal hernia may not necessarily cause harm, it may lead to pain and discomfort when straining, bending over or coughing.
An inguinal hernia presents in one or more of the following symptoms:
- A protruding bulge in the groin or abdomen area becoming more prominent when coughing.
- Pain in the groin area intensifying when bending or lifting.
- Pressure in the groin.
- Pain or swelling of the testicles or scrotum.
- In children, loss of appetite or irritability.
Everyone can develop inguinal hernias. An older child or adult may be able to push an inguinal hernia back into place and this helps us to diagnose it.
How are inguinal hernias diagnosed?
Typically, we can see and feel a visual lump in the groin area. If there is any doubt, or we want to know more about the size and impact, we may suggest an ultrasound scan.
Types of inguinal hernias
There are different types of inguinal hernias. Here’s an overview.
Indirect inguinal hernia: This is the most common type. It happens when the inguinal canal, which normally closes before birth, does not close properly. This allows abdominal contents to slide into the canal. This type of inguinal hernia is more prevalent in males due to certain aspects of male foetal development.
Direct inguinal hernia: This type is more common in adults, particularly men, and is often associated with ageing and repetitive strain on the abdomen. In men, the inguinal canal ends at the inguinal ring, a passage that allows structures like the spermatic cord to pass into the scrotum. An indirect inguinal hernia follows this path, pushing from the abdomen through the inguinal ring and sometimes into the scrotum.
A direct inguinal hernia, however, doesn’t take this path. Instead, it pushes directly forward through a weak spot in the muscles of the abdominal wall, so it doesn’t move through the inguinal ring into the scrotum. It usually appears to the side of the inguinal ring.
Incarcerated hernia: Most inguinal hernias can be pushed back into the intestine. If the tissue becomes stuck, and the hernia cannot be pushed back, we call this an incarcerated hernia. Urgent surgical intervention may be required, as an incarcerated hernia can lead to a life-threatening strangulated hernia.
Strangulated inguinal hernia: A strangulated hernia is an incarcerated hernia which has severed the blood flow to the tissue. Symptoms include severe pain, nausea, vomiting, fever, change in colour in the hernia bulge and changes in gas function. A strangulated hernia can be life-threatening, and you must seek urgent medical attention.
Inguinal hernia surgeon Gold Coast
How are inguinal hernias treated?
An inguinal hernia won’t resolve by itself but it can be gently moved back into place, and in that case it may not need any treatment. In some cases, however, surgery may be recommended.
Inguinal hernia repair
If the inguinal hernia leads to constant severe discomfort or complications, surgery, which is usually a simple procedure that takes about 30 minutes, can effectively treat it.
Laparoscopic hernia repair: Three small incisions are madenear the navel and on the abdomen. A thin tube with a camera on the end (laparoscope) is inserted in one of the keyholes, allowing the surgeon to guide tiny surgical instruments to repair the hernia. Laparoscopic hernia repair often has a quicker recovery time and less postoperative pain compared to open hernia repair.
Open hernia repair: In open surgery, a single large incision is made in the groin.
In both surgical procedures, the hernia is put back into place, and the abdominal wall is repaired with mesh. Laparoscopic hernia repair is the preferred treatment for an inguinal hernia as it is a more precis
Surgical techniques for hernia repair have been refined over many years, and the procedure is now quite routine for surgeons who specialise in this area.