Inguinal hernias typically flatten or disappear when
they are pushed gently back into place or when you lie down. Over time, hernias
tend to increase in size as the abdominal muscle wall becomes weaker and more
tissue bulges through.
If you can't push your hernia back into
your belly, it is
incarcerated. A hernia gets incarcerated when tissue
moves into the sac of the hernia and fills it up. This is not necessarily an
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But if a loop of the intestine is trapped very tightly
in the hernia, the blood supply to that part of the intestine can be cut off
(strangulated), causing tissue to die. In a man, if
tissue is trapped, the testicle and its blood vessels can also be damaged. A
strangulated hernia is a medical emergency that requires
In adults, a hernia that can be pushed back
into the abdomen can be surgically repaired at a convenient time. This is
because strangulation is rare in adults. A hernia that cannot be pushed back
can be repaired when surgery is convenient unless you have increased pain,
redness of the overlying skin, fever, nausea and vomiting, or abdominal
bloating. If any of these symptoms occur, the hernia may need to be fixed
Inguinal hernias can come back after surgical repair. But
in women it is rare for inguinal hernias to recur.
Hernias in children
Infants or children with an
inguinal hernia need to have surgery as soon as possible because of the
increased risk that a part of the intestine will become trapped and blood
supply will be cut off, leading to tissue death.
when intestinal or abdominal tissue fills up the sac of a hernia, occurs in
about 2 or 3 out of 10 infants younger than 6 months who have hernias. Most
incarcerated hernias occur before the infant is 1 year old.1 Female infants face a higher risk of incarceration.
In this article
This information is produced and provided by the National
Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National
Institute via the Internet web site at http://
.gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
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