Inguinal Hernia - Treatment Overview
Surgery is the only treatment and cure for
inguinal hernia. Hernia repair is one of the most
common surgeries done in the United States. About 750,000 people have hernia
repairs each year.2
Many doctors recommend surgery to repair a
hernia because it prevents
strangulation, which occurs when a loop of intestine
is trapped tightly in a hernia and the blood supply is cut off, which kills the
tissue. Strangulation requires immediate surgery, although the condition is
rare in adults. Infants and
children always need surgery to repair a hernia because of the increased risk of
incarceration and strangulation.
If your hernia does not bother you, you may
not need to have surgery. Waiting to have surgery does not increase the chance
that part of your intestine or abdominal tissue will get stuck in your hernia.
Waiting will also not increase your risk for problems, if you decide to have
surgery later. In some cases, hernias that are small and painless may never
need to be repaired.
- Inguinal Hernia: Should I Have Surgery for Inguinal Hernia Now, or Should I Wait?
Talk with your doctor before wearing a corset or
truss for a hernia. These devices are not recommended
for treating hernias and sometimes can do more harm than good.
Hernias in children
In a child, a hernia that is
incarcerated may be pushed back into the abdomen by a doctor. But surgery is
still needed because of the increased risk of strangulation.
- If the doctor cannot push the hernia back at
the time of the exam, the child may be sedated and laid down with his or her
head lower than the body, with an ice pack over the hernia.
- If the
hernia does not reduce on its own, the doctor may try to push it back into the
- If the hernia is reduced, surgery can be delayed for a
- If the hernia cannot be reduced, immediate surgery is
What to think about
A surgeon's experience
plays an important role in the risk of a hernia recurring. If you are
thinking about having hernia surgery, ask the surgeon how many of these surgeries he or
she has done and about his or her recurrence rates. Recurrence rates for adults tend
to be higher for surgeries that do not use mesh (a synthetic patch).
Some people with other medical conditions may choose not to have surgery
or may not be able to have hernia surgery.
- People with major health problems, such as
uncontrolled diabetes, may need to bring these conditions under control before
having hernia surgery.
- Conditions that cause coughing or straining
to pass stools or urine (such as lung diseases or
prostate problems) may need to be treated before
surgery so that the hernia is less likely to recur after repair.