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Inguinal Hernia in Children

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Apr 2, 2024.

What is an inguinal hernia?

An inguinal hernia happens when organs or abdominal tissue push through a weak spot in your child's abdominal wall. The abdominal wall is made of fat and muscle. It holds the organs in place. The hernia may contain fluid, tissue from the abdomen, or part of an organ (such as an intestine).

What causes inguinal hernias in children?

Hernias are more common in premature infants. Your child has a greater risk for a hernia if someone in his or her family had an inguinal hernia. Certain health problems, such as cystic fibrosis or an undescended testicle, also increase your child's risk for a hernia. A hernia may be caused by an opening in the abdominal wall that does not close at birth. Weakness in the abdominal wall can also cause a hernia.

What are the signs and symptoms of an inguinal hernia?

You may see a bulge or lump in your child's groin, lower abdomen, labia (outer skin flaps of the female genitals) or scrotum. Inguinal hernias usually do not cause pain. Signs and symptoms may disappear when your child lies flat or relaxes. They may get worse when your child cries, coughs, stands up, or strains to have a bowel movement.

How is an inguinal hernia diagnosed?

Your child's healthcare provider will examine your child's abdomen and groin for bumps. The provider may try to reduce the hernia manually. Manual reduction means your child's healthcare provider will use hands to put firm, steady pressure on the hernia. The provider will continue until the hernia disappears inside the abdominal wall. Your child may need any of the following:

How is an inguinal hernia treated?

Your child's inguinal hernia may get better without treatment. Surgery may be needed to place the hernia back inside your child's abdominal wall. Surgery may be needed immediately if your child's hernia stops blood flow to the intestines. It may also be done immediately if it causes a hole in your child's intestines or prevents bowel movements.

How can I manage my child's hernia?

When should I seek immediate care?

When should I contact my child's healthcare provider?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

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