What is an inguinal hernia?

An inguinal hernia is an abnormal bulge, or protrusion, that can be seen and felt in the groin area (the area between the abdomen and the thigh). An inguinal hernia develops when a portion of the intestine, along with fluid, bulges through the muscle of the abdominal wall.

Inguinal hernias in children result from a weakness in the abdominal wall that is present at birth. The bulge in the groin might only be noticed when the child is crying, coughing, or straining during a bowel movement, or it might appear to be larger during these times. Of the newborns who have inguinal hernias, 90% are boys.

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What is an incarcerated hernia?

If the weakness or defect in the abdominal wall is small to moderate in size, a portion of intestine might get trapped, or incarcerated. This is called an incarcerated hernia and can cause problems such as severe pain, nausea, vomiting, or absence of bowel movements. Larger abdominal wall defects allow the intestine to move freely in and out of the weakened abdominal wall and do not tend to be as painful.

What is a strangulated hernia?

If the intestine becomes incarcerated or trapped in the abdominal wall defect, blood flow to the intestines might become blocked. This is called a strangulated hernia. This type of hernia is often painful and requires prompt surgery.

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