An inguinal hernia refers to the protrusion of an organ in the abdominal cavity, usually a part of the digestive tract through a weak area of the abdominal wall and appearing in the groin. The inguinal hernia is easily identifiable by the presence of a small mass located at the groin. An uncomplicated inguinal hernia is painless, soft, reversible, and is aggravated while moving to the standing position or coughing, and is usually responsible for only a minor annoyance. However, it can be complicated sometimes with a constriction, when it becomes painful, and impossible to reintegrate into the abdominal cavity. Inguinal hernia must then be operated on in order to avoid constriction of the tissue and necrosis.
An inguinal hernia is defined as the externalization of parts of organs (usually, part of the digestive tract) through a weak area of the abdominal wall. It will be made visible by the formation of an externalized mass. It may be a congenital abnormality, a faulty closing of an embryonic channel, or due to an acquired weakness of the abdominal wall. It is located especially over the line between the bottom of the torso and the pubis, which allows us to differentiate it from the femoral hernia, located below this line.
Apart from the difference in location, an inguinal hernia has the same symptoms as a femoral hernia.
The symptoms are:
- the presence of an abdominal mass that can be reintroduced into the organ sack wall (in the absence of complications);
- no feeling of pain;
- further externalization of the organ during coughing, exertion or the transition to standing position;
- possible discomfort.
The hernia may have complications and become entangled (where it is impossible to move it back into the cavity). The pain becomes intense, the hernia becoming larger and very sensitive. It can cause an intestinal obstruction of gas and waste.
The diagnosis is made after a clinical examination. The doctor will find a mass upon palpation, localized next to the inguinal ligament. Aspects that are painful, hard, rearrangeable or not, or felt when coughing will be tested depending on the presence or absence of complications.
The only curative treatment is surgical and is performed quickly to anticipate an entanglement. The technique used for femoral hernia is historically the Mac Vay technique of using a part of a ligament, but the use of prosthesis is increasingly common. Antibiotics are sometimes associated with surgical treatment as a precaution.