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Inguinal Hernia

Written by Ada’s Medical Knowledge Team

Updated on

What is inguinal hernia?

An inguinal hernia occurs when the intestine pokes through a hole in the abdominal wall in the groin area. Inguinal hernias are relatively common. This condition mostly affects older men. The most common symptom of an inguinal hernia is a lump in the groin area, which may go away temporarily when pushed on.

The diagnosis is made by a doctor examining the lump and examining the lump with an ultrasound scan of the area. As untreated hernias can sometimes cause bowel to become trapped and die, the hole in the abdominal wall is often repaired surgically. A trapped hernia is an emergency and needs urgent treatment. Surgical treatment usually works well to cure this condition.

Risks for inguinal hernia

A hernia occurs when an organ, most commonly intestine, moves into a part of the body where it doesn't normally belong. An inguinal hernia occurs when the intestine pokes through a hole in the abdominal wall in the groin region. This hole can occur during development before birth, or can develop over time due to age, injury or muscle weakness.

Things that increase the pressure inside the abdomen can increase the risk of this condition, such as being obese, having a persistent cough, straining when opening the bowel or heavy lifting. Inguinal hernias are common. This condition is much more common among men, and tends to affect older people.

Symptoms of inguinal hernia

Typical symptoms include a bulge in the groin area or scrotum. This lump may be uncomfortable or painful, especially when exercising. It may be possible to reduce the bulge by pushing on it, but it will eventually come back.

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Inguinal hernia diagnosis

The diagnosis is usually made via the physical examination. Ultrasound of the area helps to confirm diagnosis.


Treatment involves repairing the hole in the abdominal wall at surgery. One option involves placing a mesh over in the groin area to cover and support the hole which causes the hernia. This is usually done laparoscopically (with keyhole surgery).


Avoiding activities that cause increased pressure in the abdomen, such as straining when opening the bowel or lifting heavy loads, can help to prevent an inguinal hernia, or prevent an existing hernia from getting bigger.

Other names for inguinal hernia

  • Groin hernia
  • Hernia inguinalis

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