Inguinal Hernia in Children
(For adults, see Inguinal Hernia.)
A hernia is a protrusion of a piece of the intestine through an abnormal opening in the abdominal wall. An inguinal hernia occurs in the groin (the inguinal area).
A hernia in the groin is called an inguinal hernia (see Figure: What Is an Inguinal Hernia?). Inguinal hernias are more common among boys, particularly those who are premature. The right side is affected most commonly, and about 10% of inguinal hernias occur on both sides of the groin. An inguinal hernia extends into the groin and can extend into the scrotum. With an inguinal hernia, the opening in the abdominal wall can be present from birth or develop later in life.
What Is an Inguinal Hernia?
Inguinal hernias usually cause a painless bulge in the groin or scrotum.
Sometimes a portion of the intestine is trapped in the scrotum (called incarceration), and the bulge may become firm, tender, swollen, and red. If the intestine becomes trapped, the intestine’s blood supply can be cut off (called strangulation). Strangulated intestine may die (develop gangrene) within hours and this condition is an emergency.