A groin or inguinal hernia is a bulge in the groin area. It is created when soft tissue pushes through a weak spot in the abdomen wall. Sometimes soft tissue also passes down a canal that connects the scrotum to the abdominal area. This canal is called the inguinal canal.
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A groin hernia in children can be caused by:
Groin hernias are more common in boys than girls. Factors that may increase the risk of groin hernias include:
A bulge is the most common symptom. It may be easier to see this bulge when your child is crying. If your child is relaxed, the bulge may look smaller. Your child may also have some occasional pain in the area.
Hernias can sometimes get caught in the abdominal wall. This is called a strangulated hernia which can lead to more serious symptoms such as:
A strangulated hernia requires emergency care.
The doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will also be done. The doctor will be able to feel your child’s hernia. Other conditions will be ruled out.
An ultrasound may also be done to create images inside your body.
Most groin hernias require surgery. The surgery may be:
If your premature baby has a groin hernia, surgery may be postponed for several months.
There are no current guidelines to prevent a groin hernia.
Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
About Kids Health—The Hospital for Sick Children
Groin hernia in children. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated November 5, 2012. Accessed June 24, 2013.
Hernia (umbilical or inguinal) in children. Boston Children's Hospital website. Available at: http://www.childrenshospital.org/conditions-and-treatments/conditions/hernia-umbilical-or-inguinal. Accessed June 24, 2013.
Inguinal hernia. Cincinnati Children’s website. Available at: http://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/health/i/inguinal-hernia. Updated December 20, 2010. Accessed June 24, 2013.
Last reviewed June 2015 by Michael Woods, MD Last Updated: 6/3/2013