When intestinal or fatty tissues push through the inguinal canal in the groin area, the condition is called inguinal hernia. Both men and women can be affected by an inguinal hernia. There are two types of inguinal hernias:
Direct inguinal hernias: occur only in adult males due to a weakness in the abdominal wall
Indirect inguinal hernias: when the hernial sac and contents traverses the inguinal canal (from the internal ring to the external ring)
Signs and symptoms
Sharp pain during bending over, exercising or coughing
Fullness or heaviness of the groin
In men: swelling in the scrotum
Discomfort when standing, straining, lifting that improves with rest
Causes and risk factors
Commonly occurs in men
Prematurity at birth
Constipation or obstructive urination
Heavy weight lifting
Standing for prolonged periods of time
Complications of inguinal hernias
Incarceration: the fatty tissue or the intestine gets stuck in the groin or scrotum and does not go back into the abdomen
Strangulation: the incarcerated hernias are left untreated; there is obstruction of blood supply to the small intestine; strangulated hernias are an emergency situation and require immediate attention.
Physical examination: the patient is asked to stand, cough and strain to see if a bulge forms
Imaging tests are not absolutely essential for the diagnosis of inguinal hernia.
Inguinal hernia is a clinical diagnosis
Ultrasound scan of the groin may be done if there is doubt in the diagnosis or if the clinical examination is inconclusive
CT scan is done in complicated inguinal hernia, if there is a doubt of obstruction or strangulation (in selected cases)
Laparoscopic hernia repair is performed as a therapeutic option for inguinal hernias. Recovery times are shorter with patients feeling less pain and discomfort. As a preventive measure, surgical repair is the only option that will avert instances of incarceration or strangulation. Laparoscopic inguinal hernia repair has got definit advantage compared to open repair in cases of inguinal hernia on both sides and in hernias which has appeared for a second time after a previous open repair, even if it is on one side.
Dr. Deepak Varma has treated several early-stage and strangulated hernias very successfully. He is an experienced laparoscopic surgeon who can treat simple and complicated inguinal hernias through key hole surgery.