A hernia is the exit of an organ, such as the bowel, through the wall of the cavity in which it normally resides. Groin hernias are most common of the inguinal type but may also be femoral.
Groin hernias symptoms are present in about 66% of people. This may include pain or discomfort especially with coughing, exercise, or going to the toilet. A bulging area may occur that becomes larger when straining. The main concern is strangulation, where the blood supply to part of the bowel is blocked. This usually produces severe pain and tenderness of the area.
Most groin hernias are clinically obvious. Occasionally ultrasound is used to confirm the diagnosis or rule out other possible causes.
Groin hernias that do not cause symptoms do not always require repair. Groin hernias that contain bowel are at risk of strangulation. If strangulation occurs immediate surgery is required. Repair may be done by open surgery or by laparoscopic surgery. (Figure 1). This involves placement of a mesh in the area of weakness in the groin (Figure 2).
Open surgery has the benefit of possibly being done under local anaesthesia rather than general anaesthesia. Laparoscopic surgery generally has less pain following the procedure.