Inguinal Hernia

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This occurs when a portion of the intestine or fatty tissues bulge through the abdominal wall into the inguinal canal, appearing as swelling in the groin. The inguinal canal is a space in the groin, between the abdomen and thigh, where the spermatic cord passes in males and the round ligament (from the uterus) passes in female. 

Types of Inguinal Hernia 

Inguinal hernia may be indirect when it is due to a natural (congenital) defect in the abdominal wall, or direct, when it is caused by weakness in the muscles of abdominal wall due to ageing. Direct inguinal hernia is therefore more common later in life.

It is due to the weaknesses in the muscles of the abdominal wall which is usually due to ageing. These weak muscles then give way when there is increased intra-abdominal pressure resulting from straining or lifting of heavy objects.

Risk Factors for Inguinal Hernia 

Inguinal hernia is commoner in men than women, possibly due to the weak area created by passage of the spermatic cord and to the fact that men generally engage in more strenuous activities that increase intra-abdominal pressure than women.

It is also more likely to occur in those with family history and in men with previous abdominal surgery as the resultant scar area creates a weak link for organs to protrude. Smoking has also been associated with the likelihood of developing inguinal hernia. 

Symptoms of Inguina Hernia 

Usually, hernia causes no symptoms other than swelling when it first appears. The swelling usually disappears when the individual lies down. This swelling may increase in size, extend into the scrotum, and fails to disappear as the defect increases in size.

With time, the individual may feel pain in the groin when there is increased intra- abdominal pressure such as accompanying coughing, straining or lifting heavy object.

Complications of inguinal hernia

Inguinal hernia may undergo incarceration or strangulation if left untreated.

  1. Incarceration refers to a condition whereby the content of the hernia gets stuck in the groin or scrotum whereby it cannot go back into the abdomen, while
  2. Strangulation refers to the cut off of blood supply to the content of the hernia sac. Strangulation occurs when incarcerated hernia is not treated and may lead to the gangrene (death) of the affected part if urgent medical attention is not sought.

Treatment for inguinal hernia 

The treatment for inguinal hernia is surgery. No drug is effective in treating hernia because it is a structural defect which requires structural repair. The wall of the hernia may need to be strengthened with a mesh during the repair, especially in older patients, to reduce the chances of recurrence. The doctor in charge will give detailed explanation if there will be need for mesh or not.

Prevention of Recurrence of Inguinal Hernia

After inguinal hernia repair, avoid:

  1. Lifting of heavy objects;
  2. Engaging in vigorous activities;
  3. Straining while defecating; and
  4. Endeavour to. In addition to reduce weight if you are obese. 
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