Hernia repair, inguinal (child)

If you have an inguinal hernia, a surgery can fix it.

What is an inguinal hernia repair?

An inguinal hernia is where the contents of the abdomen push down towards the scrotum in boys, or labia (folds of skin at the entrance of the vagina) in girls.

What are the benefits of surgery?

Your child should no longer have the hernia. Surgery should prevent your child from having any of the serious complications that a hernia can cause and allow them to return to normal activities.

Are there any alternatives to surgery?

Unfortunately, a hernia will not get better without surgery.

What does the procedure involve?

Inguinal hernias can be repaired using keyhole surgery but most inguinal hernias in children are repaired through a cut on the groin. The operation is performed under a general anaesthetic and usually takes about an hour. Your surgeon will make a cut on the groin and find the ‘hernial sac’.

In boys, the sac is stuck on to the blood vessels that supply the testicle. It is also stuck on to the vas, the tube that will carry sperm away from the testicle. In girls, the hernia can contain an ovary or part of the fallopian tube.

Your surgeon will put back the contents of the sac into the abdominal cavity and peel the sac away before tying it off.

What complications can happen?

Like all surgical procedures, there are some levels of risks to consider. Some of these can be serious and can even cause death. However, you can speak to your doctor about the following general and specific complications that may worry you.

General complications of any operation

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Unsightly scarring of the skin
  • Inflammation
  • Infection of the surgical site (wound)

Specific complications of this operation

  • Developing a collection of blood or fluid under the wound
  • Developing a hydrocele, which is a swelling around the testicle
  • Injury to structures within the hernia that come from the abdomen
  • Damage to nerves that supply the skin around the groin
  • Damage of the blood supply to the testicle
  • The testicle may come to lie higher in the scrotum
  • Damage to the vas

How soon will I recover?

They 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. This is usually after 5 to 7 days. Most children make a full recovery and can return to normal activities.


An inguinal hernia is a common condition. It is caused by the contents of the abdomen pushing down towards the scrotum or labia. If left untreated, an inguinal hernia can cause serious complications. To find out more, call us on 0808 101 0337.


Authors: Mr Shailinder Singh DM FRCS (Paed. Surg.), Mr Jonathan Sutcliffe FRCS

Illustrator: Medical Illustration Copyright © Medical-Artist.com

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