Groin hernia or inguinal hernia) as it is medically called), develops when a portion of the abdominal contents (more often than not, a segment of the bowel) projects in to the groin. Males are 10 times more prone to groin hernia than females. They occur after 50 years; and may develop on one or both sides of the groin.
Groin hernia develops when a soft tissue, usually a portion of the intestine, sticks out through a weak point or a tear in the abdominal wall. This bulge is painful, particularly when you bend or cough or lift heavy things.
An inguinal hernia does not improve or go away on its own. Also, it may trigger life-threatening complications. Thus, surgeons advocate surgical repair to prevent serious complications.
Causes Of Hernia In Groin Area
Commonly seen causes and risk factors are:
- Increased intra abdominal pressure.
- A pre-existing weak portion in the wall of the abdomen.
- Straining at stool or while urinating.
- Lifting heavy weights.
- Fluid accumulation in the abdomen.
- Excess weight.
- Chronic coughing.
Occasionally, the weak spot in the abdominal wall occurs at birth when the abdominal lining fails to close correctly.
Men are more likely to develop an innate weakness along the inguinal canal because of the manner in which males develop within the womb. In the male fetus, testicles develop in the abdomen and descend in to the inguinal canal in to the scrotum. After birth, the inguinal canal shuts, except, a small place is left for the spermatic cord to pass through, but it will not allow the testicles to go back in to the abdomen. Occasionally, the canal fails to close properly, and leaves a weakened spot.
Groin Hernia Symptoms
Some groin hernias do not produce any symptoms or clinical manifestations, and it may go unnoticed till your doctor discovers it during a routine medical examination. Those that produce signs and symptoms become evident as:
- A bulge on one or either side of the pubic bone.
- An aching, dragging sensation or heaviness at the bulge.
- Pain in the groin, which aggravates when you lift heavy things, bend over, or cough.
- Weakness in the groin.
- In men, there will be swelling and pain in the scrotum around the testicles.
Surgical Treatment For Inguinal Hernia
In case the groin hernia is small and does not bother you, your doctor may advise a watch-and-wait tactic. Hernias that keep getting bigger and are painful need surgical repair to alleviate the discomfort and avert complications.
There are 2 types of surgical procedures to manage inguinal hernias:
- Herniorrhaphy: this is an open surgery, where the surgeon will make an incision in the groin and push the projecting bowel segment back in to the abdomen. He will then repair the weakened, impaired muscle. The weak spot also needs to be strengthened and reinforced with a synthetic mesh, (this technique is called hernioplasty). It will take you 4 – 6 weeks to resume normal activities.
- Laparoscopy: the surgeon makes several tiny incisions. A fiber-optic tube with a tiny camera is introduced in to the abdomen via one incision, and other instruments are inserted through others. The procedure is similar to the open surgery of repair and strengthening the abdominal wall.