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Inguinal Hernia: Surgery in Children - Topic Overview

An inguinal hernia will not go away without surgery. Most hernias in children are indirect (the abdominal tissue has bulged down the inguinal canal). These hernias need to be repaired, because they are likely to become incarcerated.

Prompt surgery is needed for younger children especially, because they may not complain about pain until there is a risk of the intestine becoming tightly trapped and its blood supply being cut off (strangulation).

  • Hernias that are incarcerated, even if they can be pushed back into the abdomen, need to be repaired as soon as possible because of the risk of strangulation.
  • Surgery may be delayed on premature babies with hernias that are not incarcerated. Premature babies are at risk for complications before and after surgery, because their hearts and respiratory systems are not fully developed.
  • Boys who have a hydrocele and an inguinal hernia usually have both problems repaired during the same surgery.

Surgery to repair an inguinal hernia needs to be postponed in infants who have any of the following conditions:

  • Any active infection
  • A cold or other upper respiratory tract infection
  • Presence of a significant rash in the groin area
  • Severe heart disease present at birth

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: November 15, 2012
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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