What is Inguinal Hernia and how is it treated?
It is common for our bodies to develop various conditions as we grow old. This is mostly due to the body’s “wear and tear” caused by aging. As a result the different organs of the body weaken. One condition that usually occurs due to a part of the body’s weakened state is Inguinal Hernia. This condition appears as a lump on the skin located in the abdominal area. This article tackles all important things you need to know about how to treat hernia.
Inguinal Hernia: Definition, types, causes, and symptoms
Inguinal Hernia, otherwise known as “groin hernia,” is a condition that occurs when a part if the tissue of an internal organ, like the intestine or belly fat, pushes through a weakened area of the muscles in the abdomen near the groin. This results to a bulge found in the inguinal region that is usually noticeable when a person is standing up. Inguinal hernia can cause discomfort and pain, especially when bending, coughing, or during heavy lifting.
There are two types of inguinal hernia:
- Direct inguinal hernia
- Indirect inguinal hernia
Direct inguinal hernia happens when the bulge goes straight through the inguinal canal’s wall. This condition is caused by the continuous pressure on the wall of the muscle that goes over a long period of time in adults, aggravating the weakened muscles of the abdomen.
Indirect inguinal hernia is caused by a birth defect in the lower part of the abdominal wall. The inguinal canal in an unborn baby has openings in the abdomen that usually seals shut prior to birth. When this opening remains during birth, internal parts in the body cavity may penetrate through this hole which results to indirect inguinal hernia.
There are various factors that can cause inguinal hernia. These are:
- A birth defect that leaves an opening or a weak part in the abdominal area
- An opening or a weak part caused by a surgery done in the abdominal area
- Conditions affecting the connective tissue
- Constant coughing or sneezing
- In females, years of pregnancy or carrying younger children
- Long periods of doing strenuous activities
- Tissue deterioration caused by ageing
Symptoms of inguinal hernia include:
- A bulge in the groin area (between the thighs and lower part of the abdomen)
- A burning feeling that may spread through the pelvic area and leg
- Heaviness in the groin
- In males, a bulge in the scrotum
- Pain in the groin when bending over, coughing, or doing strenuous activities, such as lifting
There are times when inguinal hernia does not show any symptoms at all. Symptoms may also disappear as they slip in and out of the weak muscle spot. Some inguinal hernia can be stuck, resulting to a condition called “strangulated hernia.” When this happens, it is imperative to seek immediate medical help as this can be fatal. The usual symptoms of strangulated hernia are:
- A bulge that abruptly increases in size
- Abdominal pain
- Extreme pain that suddenly occurs in the location of the hernia
- Red discoloration in the area where the hernia is present
In general, inguinal hernia is more common among men than women. Individuals who are at high risk of developing inguinal hernia, aside from being male, are:
- Children around the age of 0 to 5 years old
- Males who have undergone prostatectomy
- Older adults around the age of 75 to 80 years old
- Premature infants
- Those who have a family history of inguinal hernia
- Those who have been diagnosed with disorders in the connective tissue
- Those whose body mass index (BMI ) is low
Diagnosing inguinal hernia
A doctor will need to know about the patient’s medical history and symptoms to diagnose inguinal hernia. Aside from this, a physical exam will also be performed by the doctor wherein the abdominal area will be examined. A patient will be asked to cough, stand, or strain while feeling for a bulge in the abdomen. When needed, imaging tests, such as computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or ultrasound, may also be required.
Treating inguinal hernia
The most effective way of treating inguinal hernia is through surgery. There are various types of surgery that can be done, but choosing the kind of surgery to treat the hernia will depend on certain factors like:
- Age of the patient
- Overall health of the patient
- Medical history of the patient
- Size of the hernia
There are two main types of hernia surgery in Singapore: laparoscopic and open.
Laparoscopic hernia surgery is done by making a number of strategic incisions in the lower part of the abdomen. Through these cuts, the surgeon will insert medical tools specially designed for this procedure and work to strengthen the walls of the abdomen. This procedure uses general anesthesia.
Open hernia surgery is performed by making a direct incision in the groin to fix the hernia. Once the bulge is resolved, a piece of medical grade mesh is stitched to close and support the walls of the abdomen. This procedure may use local anesthesia and a sedative or general anesthesia.
Undergoing surgery to treat inguinal hernia may cause some risks and complications, but these are generally low and the procedure is considered as safe. The complications that may develop following surgery include:
- Inflammation in the surgical area as a result of hematoma (blood build up) or seroma (blood plasma build up)
- Extreme and persistent pain
- Reoccurrence of the hernia, which may need additional surgery
- Urinary retention
Immediately consult with a doctor when the following conditions happen following the surgery:
- Bleeding or redness in the surgical area
- Breathing issues
- Inflammation in the abdominal or groin area
- Pain in the abdominal or groin area that are not addressed by pain medications
- Problems when urinating
To know more about treating inguinal hernia surgery in Singapore, visit or contact Alpine Surgical Practice.
Alpine Surgical Practice – Dr Aaron Poh, Consultant Surgeon
3 Mount Elizabeth
#17-16 Medical Centre
Phone: +65 6589 8929
Whatsapp: +65 8875 0080