Inguinal hernia: what it is, signs and treatment

When we speak of hernias in general, we refer to the protrusion of a content through an orifice. In this case, it means that an inguinal hernia refers to protrusion of intra-abdominal contents (loop of bowel) through an orifice at groin level; umbilical hernia refers to protrusion of the same contents but through the umbilical orifice, etc.

Hernias are a very frequent pathology, and their only solution is surgical.

Causes of inguinal hernia

The abdominal cavity is formed by viscera, fat and a fluid that allows these structures to lubricate and move. This fluid is known as peritoneal fluid.

This content exerts pressure from the inside out on the abdominal wall that contains it. Therefore, it can be stated that a hernia occurs when: the pressure exerted on this abdominal wall increases and when the abdominal wall is weakened.

For example: in obese patients or in patients who usually lift a lot of weight such as extreme physical exercise (weightlifting, weightlifters) or any professional activity involving the loading or lifting of heavy material.

However, it can also occur by repeated small increases in pressure, as for example occurs in respiratory diseases that cause chronic cough such as COPD or asthma among others. There is also a group of patients in which the cause is congenital, and are usually the cause of hernias diagnosed and operated in childhood.

Signs and symptoms of inguinal hernia

It should be noted that sometimes inguinal hernia does not produce clear symptoms, and the patient comes to the consultation because he has felt discomfort in the pubis, especially when walking a lot or playing sports, or sometimes a pain “as if it were burning” in the root of the thigh.

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However, the most usual or common thing in cases of inguinal hernia is that patients notice a lump in the groin or in the scrotum, whose size is variable, increasing when making an effort such as coughing or evacuating, hence sometimes have a tendency to constipation for fear of straining the abdomen.

The diagnosis of a hernia is clinical, and a physical examination usually reveals the lump. If there is any doubt about it, imaging tests such as ultrasound scans can be requested to clarify the case.

Treatment of inguinal hernia

The treatment to solve an inguinal hernia is always surgical and basically consists of reducing the hernial content.

The treatment of inguinal hernia is carried out by placing the viscera inside the abdomen and then repairing the area of weakness of the abdominal wall, usually by placing a prosthetic mesh, by different techniques.

The surgery is simple in cases in which the inguinal hernia does not have serious alterations, so much so that it can often be performed on an outpatient basis without requiring hospital admission.

The prognosis and evolution of those affected by this problem is usually very good, since complications after treatment are usually minimal.