What is an inguinal hernia?
An inguinal hernia
occurs when tissue pushes through a weak spot in your groin muscle. This causes
a bulge in the groin, scrotum, or labia. The bulge may hurt or burn, or it may
not hurt at all.
Why do hernias need to be repaired?
If you have a
hernia, it will not heal on its own. Surgery is the only way to fix a hernia.
Having surgery for a hernia can prevent a serious complication, like part of
your intestine getting trapped in your hernia.
hernia can also relieve the symptoms of pain and discomfort and make the bulge
If your hernia does not bother you, you most likely can
wait to have surgery. Your hernia may get worse, but it may not. In some cases
small, painless hernias may never need to be repaired.
What kinds of surgery are used for inguinal hernia?
There are two types of hernia repair surgeries:
Open hernia repair surgery. During open surgery, the hernia is repaired through a cut,
called an incision, in the groin. Open surgery is safe and effective and has
been done for many years.
Laparoscopic hernia repair. This is another method for hernia repair in adults. A surgeon
inserts a thin, lighted scope through a small incision in the belly. Surgical
tools to repair the hernia are inserted through other small incisions in the
belly. Laparoscopic hernia surgery may have some advantages over open surgery
in certain situations. Studies show that people have less
pain after this type of surgery and can return to work and other activities
more quickly than after open repair. But this surgery costs more than open
When is it safe to delay surgery?
Surgery may not
be needed for some time. Many people are able to delay surgery for months or
even years and some people may never need surgery for a small hernia. If the
hernia is small and you do not have any symptoms, or if the symptoms do not
bother you much, you and your doctor may simply continue to watch for symptoms
If a hernia in an adult can be pushed back into the
belly (reduced) or it goes away when lying down, the person can wait to have
surgery. If it cannot be pushed back, surgery must be done sooner.
What are the risks of surgery?
Surgery for hernia
repair includes risks for:
- Bad reaction to
- Infection and bleeding at the site.
damage, numb skin, or a loss of blood supply to the scrotum or testicles that
could cause the testicles to waste away. None of these are
- Damage to the cord that carries sperm from the testicles
to the penis. This could affect your ability to father
- Damage to the artery or vein in the
- Damage to the intestines or bladder for certain types of
hernias or if the surgery is a laparoscopic repair.
It can take up to 4 weeks after open hernia surgery
before you can resume normal strenuous activities. If you have laparoscopic
surgery, you may recover sooner.
What are the risks of waiting to have surgery?
main risk of waiting to have surgery for an inguinal hernia is a rare but
serious problem called a strangulation. This occurs when a loop of intestine is
trapped in a hernia and the blood supply is cut off, killing the tissue. Talk
with your doctor to decide when you need hernia repair surgery.
If you need more information, see the topic