Digestive and Gastrointestinal Conditions

Inguinal Hernia Treatment

An inguinal hernia, whether it comes and goes or is always present, will not go away if left alone. Even those that seem to go away can come back again and get bigger when your child runs, cries or strains during a bowel movement. This can be uncomfortable.

The first step in treating an inguinal hernia is to try to gently press the bulging tissue back through the opening. This is called reducing the hernia. If the doctor is able to do this, we recommend your child have surgery soon, probably within a few weeks, to close the opening so the hernia doesn't return.

If the doctor is not able to press the bulging tissue back where it belongs, your child will need surgery right away. This is an emergency because it means the tissue is trapped and is not getting the blood and oxygen it needs to survive.

Surgery for Inguinal Hernia

At the time of surgery, we will give your child medicine (general anesthesia) to make them sleep without pain.

If your child has hernias on both sides or if the surgeon suspects your child might have hernias on both sides, the surgeon will talk with you about the options for evaluation and treatment.

During the operation for inguinal hernia, your child's surgeon makes a very small cut (incision) on the lower belly. The surgeon gently pushes any bulging tissue back into the belly. Then, in girls, the surgeon will sew the opening shut.

In boys, the surgeon sews shut the sac that poked through the opening. But in boys, surgeons leave the hole between the belly and the scrotum open. This is because blood vessels that go to the testicles and the tubes that carry sperm (vas) travel through the opening. The opening isn't the problem - just the sac that poked through - so surgeons fix the hernia by closing only the sac.

Finally, the surgeon will close the incision in your child's skin.

The surgery takes about a half-hour to 45 minutes. Your child will be in the recovery room for 30 minutes to an hour.

Most often, your child can go home the same day as the surgery. Premature babies that have the surgery may need to stay overnight in the hospital so we can carefully watch them.

After Surgery for Inguinal Hernia

After surgery, we will give your child pain medicine to make them comfortable. At home, you'll need to keep the incision clean and dry until it heals. The surgery team will teach you how to care for the incision. They will tell you if you should limit your child's activity for a while.

About two to three weeks after surgery, your child will need to see the surgeon for a follow-up visit. The surgeon will make sure the incision is healing and your child is recovering well.