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Inguinal Canal

The inguinal canal is a natural passage or opening through the muscles of the abdominal (belly) wall. Before males are born, the testicles descend from the abdomen into the scrotum through the inguinal canal; in females, a ligament passes through the canal to the large folds of skin (labia) surrounding the vagina.

The inguinal canal varies in length, depending on a person's age. It can be up to 3 in. (7.6 cm) in adults.

The inguinal canal usually closes before a baby is born or by age 2. But the canal may stay open into adulthood. If the canal is open, tissue from inside the abdomen may bulge through the canal, causing an indirect inguinal hernia.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Kenneth Bark, MD - Surgery, Colon and Rectal
Current as of November 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.