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Types of Inguinal Hernias: What You Need to Know

Types of Inguinal Hernias

What Is An Inguinal Hernia?

Inguinal is an adjective meaning “in the groin.” Groin hernia and inguinal hernia are same and common in men but can also occur in women.

Hernias can develop in different areas of the body and are a result of a weakness in the abdominal wall. Strain or pressure can cause belly fat or a portion of the intestinal loop to be pushed out through a weak area in the lower abdomen forming the hernia.

Indirect vs Direct Types of Inguinal Hernias

Indirect

Babies typically have the inguinal canal fully closed at birth, but when the canal does not fully form and fail to close properly before birth, it can result in a hernia. These hernias are usually present from birth and occur more frequently in premature male children.

An opening is left in the baby’s abdomen and some of the baby’s intestines can protrude through the opening. Inguinal hernias are different from umbilical hernias (common in babies and often resolve on their own) and usually require surgery to correct.

When the baby is a female, indirect inguinal hernias can cause other reproductive organs to slide into the wrong location. When a portion of the intestine becomes trapped or incarcerated, it can cause a life-threatening condition called a strangulated inguinal hernia. They usually repair it quickly to prevent a dangerous bowel blockage. Studies have shown that the risk of incarceration is higher in babies under a year old.

Direct

Normally found in adults, direct inguinal hernias form by breaking through the inguinal canal wall. The combination of ongoing pressure and strain exerting onto a weakened area of the abdominal muscle causes direct inguinal hernias.

Where Are Inguinal Canal Hernias Normally Located?

The inguinal canals located on either side of the pelvic bone, follow a path from the hip bone diagonally down to the pubic bone. This canal contains blood vessels, lymphatic vessels, and nerves. In females, the ligament supporting the uterus is also located in the inguinal canal.

A hernia that forms due to exertion or pressure put on a weak muscle in this abdominal area will be located in this pathway that runs from the abdomen to the groin. They can form on either or both sides of the groin.

Types of Inguinal Hernias
What Is an Inguinal Hernia?

What Is An Incarcerated Inguinal Hernia?

A hernia can sometimes become lodged, begin to swell, and become stuck or “incarcerated”. Once incarceration occurs, it compromises the blood supply within the small intestine and can cause a life-threatening emergency.

Hernias in Men

Men are ten times more susceptible to inguinal hernias due to their anatomy. A male’s testicles are located in their lower abdominal wall at birth and descend down the inguinal canal into the scrotum. The opening in their pathway, sometimes doesn’t fully close as it should during development, or can be reopened more easily, making them more prone to developing a hernia.

In men, hernias can manifest as a lump or bulge in their scrotum and are called inguinal scrotal hernias. They may not be noticeable unless standing, coughing, or exerting pressure on the area such as lifting a heavy object.

If the hernia is painful, causing chronic symptoms or complications to arise, individuals need surgery for inguinal scrotal hernias.

Hernias In Women

Inguinal canal hernias are less common in women as this area is significantly more narrow than in men. In women, femoral hernias are more common and form on the upper portion of the thigh. They are often not visible but will create noticeable pain.

Most women undergo surgery to correct asymptomatic inguinal hernias because their risk of complications is higher. Women with inguinal hernias may also have hidden femoral hernias that can trap their bowels, leading to a medical emergency. Approximately 50% of women who experience hidden femoral hernias require emergency surgery.

Types of Inguinal Hernias: Femoral Hernia vs Inguinal Hernia

An inguinal hernia forms when there is abdominal weakness in the lower portion of the abdomen. Additionally, if on the right side: right inguinal hernia, on the left side: left inguinal hernia. Moreover, bilateral inguinal hernias occur when hernias are present on both sides.

Smaller channels called femoral canals run directly under the inguinal canals. Femoral hernias occur when a hernia develops in one of these channels. They are less common than inguinal hernias and have a higher incidence in women than men.

Types of Inguinal Hernias: Is A Sports Hernia The Same As An Inguinal Hernia?

If you suspect or have been diagnosed with an inguinal hernia and need more information or treatment, contact IBI Healthcare Institute today.

Picture of Dr. A. Christopher Ibikunle MD FACS
Dr. A. Christopher Ibikunle MD FACS
Dr A. Christopher Ibikunle (MD, FACS) is a distinguished surgeon with a rich academic and clinical background. After completing his residency at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, he served as an Active Staff and Assistant Professor of Surgery. Currently, he is a Professor of Surgery at Augusta University/University of Georgia Medical Partnership and a Lead Preceptor for several institutions, including Morehouse University and Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Chris is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and a member of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, committed to advancing surgery and patient care.
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