The inguinal hernia is the most common type of hernia, particularly in men. An inguinal hernia occurs when the contents of the abdomen (bowel or fatty tissue) push through the inguinal canal and down into the groin. The reason they are so common is that the inguinal canal is a naturally weak spot in the abdominal wall. This is larger in men as it is the way that the testes descended into the scrotum during fetal development. Given that an opening naturally occurs here, it’s not surprising that it’s the site of most hernias.
Many inguinal hernias don’t present with pain. They may also be reducible, meaning they can be pushed back through the hole and into place. If they are reducible, the need for surgery is less emergent. So, your operation may be scheduled ahead of time.
When they are not reducible, they are considered incarcerated and present a need for immediate surgery.
A femoral hernia also occurs in the groin through another natural opening. The femoral canal allows the femoral artery and vein to pass from the abdomen into the legs. In a femoral hernia, the contents of the small bowel push through the femoral opening. These types of hernias, while generally rare, carry a higher risk of incarceration and strangulation (loss of blood flow to the organ). Surgery is generally needed sooner rather than later.
Inguinal hernia surgery can be performed either open or laparoscopically. Open operations are still somewhat common for this type of hernia repair. In an open surgery, the surgeon makes one larger incision that exposes the whole area so that the hernia can then be repaired. In a laparoscopic surgery, a few smaller incisions are made and laparoscopic instruments and a camera are then inserted. The best type of surgery varies from patient to patient, so be sure to discuss your case with your surgeon.
Almost all inguinal and femoral hernia surgeries are performed on an outpatient basis.