Groin hernia

Hernias that appear in the groin are the most common type and hernia surgery is the most commonly performed general surgical operation.  The types of groin hernias are:

1. Inguinal hernia

A hernia that occurs in the groin is called an inguinal hernia.  There is a natural weakness in the groin, known as the inguinal canal, which transmits the vessels that supply the testicle in men and a ligament in women.  They are the most common type of hernia and tend to be more prevalent in men.  There are essentially two different ways of repairing an inguinal hernia:

Open inguinal hernia repair

This is the more traditional method of repair and is still the gold standard.  An incision is made in the groin over where the bulge comes out, the hernia sac is returned to the abdomen and a mesh is sutured to reinforce the area.  The tissue layers and skin are then closed with dissolvable stitches.

Laparoscopic (keyhole) inguinal hernia repair

As opposed to open hernia surgery where the hernia is repaired from the outside of the abdominal cavity, laparoscopic repair reinforces the defect from within.  Three small cuts are made in the abdomen, through which a laparoscope (camera) and operating instruments are passed.  The hernia sac is pulled back into the abdomen before a mesh is inserted to reinforce the area.

2. Femoral hernia

A femoral hernia Occurs lower in the groin that an inguinal hernia.  They tend to be more common in women and have a higher risk of strangulation if left untreated.  They are usually repaired as an open operation through an incision in the groin, occasionally inserting mesh, although laparoscopic techniques can also be used.

What are the risks of hernia surgery?

Hernia surgery is commonly performed and inherently safe.  However, there are specific complications and risks, which differ slightly depending on the type of hernia that is being repaired.  Essentially, there are risks of bleeding, infection (that can be serious if the mesh is involved and sometimes needs the mesh to be removed), chronic pain at the repair site, numbness around the area, and recurrence of the hernia.  Your surgeon will be able to inform you fully of the risks, as well as advising you on which type of repair is most appropriate.

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