A groin hernia occurs when tissue or part of the intestine bulge through a weak point in the abdominal wall and into the groin.
The two main types of groin hernia are inguinal hernias and femoral hernias.
In both inguinal and femoral hernias, surgery is often recommended to avoid potential complications such as strangulation, which is when a portion of the bowel becomes trapped, cutting off its blood supply.
Because of the increased risk of complications, physicians typically recommended that femoral hernias are fixed quickly (although typically not on an emergency basis). Inguinal hernias, on the other hand, should be fixed electively if they are symptomatic. If they are not symptomatic, they can be observed after a discussion with your doctor.
Heavy lifting or other strenuous activities may contribute to a groin hernia developing, though most patients with a groin hernia have no prior risk factors.
In most cases, patients with an inguinal hernia present with a bulge in the groin or swelling of the scrotum. They may also experience pain when:
Patients with a femoral hernia often present with a small bulge where the inner thigh meets the groin.
Your doctor will review your medical and surgical history and then carefully examine the affected area. He or she may also request that you stand and cough in order to detect a bulge which would signify a hernia.
A diagnosis of a groin hernia may be confirmed via imaging tests such as:
In addition, these tests may help your doctor pinpoint where the hernia is located and decide on the best treatment option.
Treatment options include:
Surgical repair of a groin hernia involves closing the weakness in the abdominal wall and reinforcing it, sometimes with synthetic mesh material. The method used depends on your hernia's size and location, your general health and your expected level of future physical activity.
The surgeons at the Brigham and Women's Hospital Hernia Program are highly experienced in the full range of surgeries for groin hernias, including:
As part of their role at a major academic medical center, our surgeons keep up to date on and incorporate into their practice the latest advancements in hernia surgery. In some instances, our surgeons are performing research that guides hernia care across the country and the world.
To learn more about the Hernia Program’s multidisciplinary approach to patient care or to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, please call 617-525-9726. Our providers see patients at the following locations:
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