Inguinal Hernia, Child

ExitCare Image A groin (inguinal) hernia is located in the area where the leg meets the lower abdomen. About half of these conditions appear before 1 year of age.

CAUSES

An inguinal hernia occurs because the muscular wall of the abdomen is weak and the intestine is able to push through the muscular wall.

SYMPTOMS

There is a bulge in the genital area.

DIAGNOSIS

The diagnosis is usually made by physical exam. Your caregiver may also have an ultrasound done.

TREATMENT

Because the hernia connects with the abdomen, the only treatment is a surgical repair. The 2 most common surgeries to repair a hernia are:

  • Open surgery. This is when a surgeon makes a small cut near the hernia and pushes the intestine back into the abdomen. The surgeon will use a material like mesh to close the hole and then sew the muscle back together.

  • Laparoscopic surgery. This is when a surgeon makes several smaller cuts and uses a camera and special tools to repair the hernia. Without making a big incision, the surgical scar is often much smaller.

Not having a repair puts the child at risk for injury to the intestine. This may happen when the intestine gets stuck and is injured. If this occurs, it is an emergency and surgery is needed immediately. Because many hernias occur on both sides, your caregiver may schedule both sides for repair during surgery.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

When the bulge is noticeable to you, do not attempt to force it back in. This could cause damage to the structures inside the hernia and seriously injure your child. If this happens, you should see your caregiver immediately or go directly to your emergency department. You may notice the bulge getting bigger or smaller based on your child's activity. While crying or during a bowel movement the hernia may get bigger. The hernia may get smaller when your child stops crying or when your child is not having a bowel movement. If the bulge stays out, this is an emergency and you need to see your caregiver or go to the emergency department.

SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • Your child develops an oral temperature above 102° F (38.9° C), or as your caregiver suggests.

  • Your child appears to have increasing abdominal pain or swelling.

  • Your child begins vomiting.

  • The hernia looks discolored, feels hard, or is tender.

MAKE SURE YOU:

  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your child's condition.

  • Will get help right away if your child is not doing well or gets worse.