What is an inguinal hernia?
An inguinal hernia happens at the inguinal canal. This is a narrow passage where, in boys, blood vessels supplying the testicle pass through the abdominal wall. In girls, the connection is between the abdomen and labia. Usually the passage closes shortly after your child is born. If it remains open, the contents of the abdomen can push down towards the scrotum or labia (see figure 1).
A hernia can be dangerous because the intestines or other structures within the abdomen can get trapped and have their blood supply cut off (strangulated hernia).
What are the benefits of surgery?
Your child should no longer have the hernia. Surgery should prevent your child from having any serious complications that a hernia can cause.
Are there any alternatives to surgery?
The hernia will not go away without an operation.
What does the operation involve?
Most inguinal hernias in children are repaired through a cut in the groin.
The operation is performed under a general anaesthetic. The operation usually takes between half an hour and an hour.
Your surgeon will make a cut in the groin and remove the ‘hernial sac’.
What complications can happen?
1. General complications of any operation
- Infection in the surgical wound
- Unsightly scarring
2. Specific complications of this operation
- Developing a lump under the wound
- Developing a swelling around the testicle
- Injury to structures within the hernia
- Injury to nerves
- Damage of the blood supply to the testicle
- The testicle may come to lie higher in the scrotum
- Damage to the tube that carries sperm
How soon will my child recover?
Your child should be able to go home the same day or the day after. Your doctor will tell you when your child can return to school.
In a small number of cases the hernia can come back.
An inguinal hernia is a common condition caused by a weakness in the abdominal wall near the inguinal canal. If left untreated, an inguinal hernia can occasionally cause serious complications.
Paying for the operation
Inguinal hernia repair costs are covered by most medical insurance policies, but please check with your insurer first. If you are paying for your own treatment the cost of the operation will be explained and confirmed in writing when you book the operation. Ask the hospital for a quote beforehand, and ensure that this includes the surgeon’s fee, the anaesthetist’s fee and the hospital charge for your procedure.
Author: Mr Jonathan Sutcliffe FRCS and Mr Shailinder Singh FRCS (Paed. Surg.)
Illustrations: Hannah Ravenscroft RM
This document is intended for information purposes only and should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.
Copyright © 2008 EIDO Healthcare Limited The operation and treatment information on this website is produced by EIDO Healthcare Ltd and is licensed by BMI Healthcare. The intellectual property rights to the information belong exclusively to EIDO Healthcare Limited. You may not copy, print out, download or otherwise reproduce any of the information other than for your personal, non-commercial use. The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.