An inguinal hernia is the protrusion of abdominal contents through the inguinal canal (groin).
This will appear as a soft bulge underneath the skin where the hernia is located. The size of the bulge will usually fluctuate depending on changes in intraabdominal pressure. Most inguinal hernia’s occur in boys and in about 10% of cases they are bilateral. In boys, inguinal hernia’s develop when the testicle descends from the abdomen into the scrotum. As the testicle moves, it brings the peritoneum or lining of the abdomen down into the scrotum to form a pouch or sac. This sac (processes vaginalis) normally closes shortly after birth, but if closure is delayed or incomplete, the sac may stretch and develop into a hernia.
Inguinal hernias require surgical correction in order to avoid the risk of intra-abdominal contents becoming incarcerated (the contents cannot be pushed back into the abdomen). After prolonged periods of incarceration the blood supply to intra-abdominal structures, such as intestine, within the hernia sac can be cut off causing a life-threatening situation.
Surgical correction of an inguinal hernia is usually carried out through a small groin incision. This can usually be performed as an outpatient procedure and most children can return to normal activities within a few days.