A hernia is a very common condition but it can cause a great deal of discomfort, pain, and even lead to dangerous complications if not treated properly. A hernia is when tissue or intestines push through weakened areas of the abdominal wall and the most common type of hernias happen in the lower abdominal area, on either side of the groin. These are known as inguinal hernias because they often occur in a space called the inguinal canal.
Inguinal hernias don’t go away on their own and surgical repair is the safest, most effective option to treat them and prevent further health risks. Learn more about laparoscopic inguinal hernia repair and minimally-invasive robotic surgery, an approach which gives the surgeon a high-definition 3D view of the anatomy during surgery and which can offer a shorter recovery, as well as less pain and scarring for some patients.
Who is at Risk for an Inguinal Hernia?
Anyone can develop an inguinal hernia, but there are some risk factors that make developing one more likely.
- Being Male: Inguinal hernias happen more commonly in men. Shortly after birth in male babies, the testicles descend through the inguinal canal, leaving a space that doesn’t close properly, resulting in weakness which can make an inguinal hernia more common later in life.
- Older Age: As we age, our abdominal muscles weaken, making a hernia more likely.
- Frequent or Chronic Constipation: Regular pressure and strain because of constipation can lead to an inguinal hernia.
- Family History: If your family has a history of inguinal hernias, you may be more likely to develop one.
- Prior Hernias: If you experienced hernias in childhood, or have had a previous hernia repair, you can be more at risk for another inguinal hernia.
How Can You Identify Signs of an Inguinal Hernia?
If you see the signs of an inguinal hernia, it’s important to have it checked out by a medical provider. We can diagnose and treat inguinal hernias, which can prevent further complications. Some of the signs you might have a hernia include:
- Visible protruding or bulging on one or both sides of the groin
- Swelling in the scrotum in men
- Pain, discomfort, or aching that gets better with rest
- Sharp pain with lifting or strenuous activity
Sometimes people experience minimal or no symptoms and only find out they have a hernia from a physical or other medical exam.
If you see redness in the inguinal area, extreme pain, fever, rapid heart rate, nausea, or are unable to have a bowel movement, seek medical care immediately. These could be life-threatening complications of a hernia.
How We Confirm You Have an Inguinal Hernia
If you come to us with signs of an inguinal hernia, we will provide you with a complete exam to confirm a diagnosis.
Symptoms and Medical History
We’ll first discuss all your symptoms with you, including how long they have been affecting you. We’ll also go over a complete medical history and discuss your family’s medical history. This is an important part of any medical exam, so it’s important to be honest and thorough with your doctor so that we can design the best possible treatment plan.
We will perform a comprehensive physical exam, which includes the doctor visually inspecting and feeling your abdomen and groin area. An hernia can be more apparent under some kinds of strain, so the doctor will probably ask you to stand and cough, as this may make a hernia more visible.
Most of the time, we’ll be able to make a diagnosis from a physical exam alone, but sometimes imaging tests are needed. We may order tests to help with diagnosis. This may include an abdominal ultrasound, which uses soundwaves to provide a picture of the anatomy; a computed tomography (CT) scan, which combines multiple X-rays to give detailed images of the inside of the body; or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which creates diagnostic images using magnets and radio waves. Although they aren’t commonly needed for hernia diagnosis, these tools can sometimes help diagnose a difficult to see hernia, or rule out other conditions.
Why We’re the Best Hernia Repair Doctors in Orange County
Once there is a diagnosis of an inguinal hernia, we’ll typically recommend hernia repair. Hernia repair is a procedure in which the herniated tissue is returned to the abdominal cavity and the weakness in the abdominal wall is repaired and sometimes reinforced with a mesh structure.
Dr. Abtin Khosravi, MD, is a board-certified general surgeon leading Orange County Robotic General Surgery. There’s a reason people in Orange County and the greater Los Angeles area turn time and time again to our practice—we have extensive experience and a record of highly successful outcomes for hernia repair procedures. We have expertise in laparoscopic procedures as well as the most advanced, minimally-invasive robotic surgery procedures. We work with each patient to determine the technique that will produce the best possible outcome. Learn more about our practice.