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Inguinal Hernia

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An inguinal hernia occurs when a small portion of the bowel bulges out through the inguinal canal—a passage or opening through the muscles of the abdominal (belly) wall—into the groin. The bulge usually contains tissue lining the inside of the abdomen as well as fatty tissue from inside the abdomen. Or it may contain a loop of intestine.

There are two types of inguinal hernias:

  • Direct inguinal hernias occur when a weak spot develops in the lower belly muscles. Often the cause of the hernia is not known. But lifting, straining, or coughing or being obese, pregnant, or constipated are often thought to be causes of hernias.
  • Indirect inguinal hernias occur when the inguinal canal fails to close before birth. The hernia may appear in a male's scrotum or in the fold of skin at the opening of a female's vagina. This is the most common type of inguinal hernia. And it may occur at birth or later in life. Indirect hernias are more common in males.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerKenneth Bark, MD - Surgery, Colon and Rectal
Last RevisedNovember 15, 2012

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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