An inguinal hernia is a protrusion of an organ, such as the intestines and tissue that is in the abdomen into the groin or groin area. An inguinal hernia is one of the most common types of hernias , especially in men.
In an inguinal hernia, the protruding organ or tissue usually originates from the small intestine or fatty tissue. However, in women, sometimes inguinal hernias originate from the female reproductive organs, for example the ovaries (ovaries) or fallopian tubes (fallopian tubes).
Most inguinal hernias do not cause pain. However, sometimes the bulge can be painful, especially when the patient bends over, lifts heavy objects, or coughs. Although generally harmless, inguinal hernias cannot heal on their own and run the risk of complications.
Inguinal Hernia Causes
According to the cause, inguinal hernias can be divided into two types, namely:
- Indirect inguinal hernia, which is a hernia that occurs as a result of a birth defect in the abdominal wall. This condition usually occurs in infants or children.
- Direct inguinal hernia, which is a hernia that occurs due to weakness of the abdominal wall muscles due to repeated pressure, for example, often lifting heavy objects. This condition is common in adults.
Some of the risk factors that can lead to weakening of the abdominal wall are:
- History of hernias in the family
- Chronic cough
- The habit of straining during bowel movements or urination
- Chronic constipation (constipation).
- History of injury or surgery to the abdomen
- Smoking habit
Although it can happen to anyone, inguinal hernias are more common in men, both infants, children and adults.
Inguinal Hernia Symptoms
Inguinal hernias often go unnoticed. People who experience this condition will generally feel a bulge or lump in the groin. In some men, the bulge can extend into the scrotum, making the scrotum appear enlarged.
Protrusions due to inguinal hernias can come and go or persist. If the bulge persists, some of the symptoms that can appear are:
- Heavy sensation at the bulge
- Pain or burning sensation in the bulge
- Pain and swelling in the groin
- Pain when coughing, straining, or bending
Apart from adults, inguinal hernias can also occur in children and newborns. Usually, a bulge in the groin will appear when the child cries, coughs, or when defecating.
When to go to the doctor
Hernias that continue and don't get treatment can increase the risk of getting stuck in the intestine and the tissue in the hernia sac. This condition is known as a strangulated hernia. Check with your doctor if you experience complaints in the form of:
- Pain that feels worse
- Sudden abdominal pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- The lump cannot be pushed back in
- Discoloration of the hernia to red, purple, or dark
- Unable to defecate and pass gas
This condition is dangerous and requires fast action to prevent complications and damage to the pinched organ. If possible, immediately go to the emergency room at the nearest hospital to get emergency treatment.
Inguinal hernia diagnosis
To diagnose an inguinal hernia, the doctor will ask questions about complaints, activities, and medical history, including a history of previous operations and injuries in the abdominal area.
Next, the doctor will do a thorough physical examination , including looking at and touching the hernia. During the examination, the doctor will ask the patient to stand up, cough, or strain, so that the hernia can be seen or felt more clearly.
If the results of the physical examination are deemed insufficient, the doctor will ask the patient to undergo a scan with an ultrasound , CT scan , or MRI , to see the patient's internal organs and body tissues in detail.
Inguinal Hernia Treatment
If an inguinal hernia does not interfere with activities, the doctor will advise the patient to monitor the progress of the symptoms they are experiencing. Doctors can also recommend using special support pants to relieve the symptoms that appear.
Whereas in cases of inguinal hernias that are large and cause pain, the doctor will carry out surgical procedures . This procedure is performed by reinserting protruding organs or tissues, as well as strengthening the weak parts of the abdominal wall.
The goal of inguinal hernia surgery is to overcome complaints, prevent hernias from appearing or recurring, and preventing complications. There are two surgical methods for treating inguinal hernias, namely open surgery and laparoscopic surgery. The following is an explanation:
In open surgery, the doctor will make an incision in the groin, then return the trapped intestines and organs to their original position. After that, a special sheet called a mesh will be used to close the hernia opening. Next, the doctor will stitch up the surgical wound.
If there is damaged intestine or tissue (necrosis) due to twisting, the doctor will remove it before returning the organ to its original position.
In a laparoscopic procedure , the surgeon will make several small incisions in the abdomen. Through one of these incisions, the doctor will insert a tool called a laparoscope, which is a small tube equipped with a camera and a small light at the end.
One of the advantages of laparoscopy is the relatively faster healing time because the postoperative wound that is formed is only small. However, patients can still discuss with the doctor before choosing the most appropriate surgical method.
Inguinal Hernia Complications
If an inguinal hernia is left unchecked, the intestine and tissue can get pinched and cause a strangulated hernia. This condition is dangerous because it can cause:
- Damage to the intestines and trapped tissue
- Testicular damage from pressure from a hernia
- Infection of the pinched organ
- Gastrointestinal obstruction
Inguinal Hernia Prevention
If it is caused by a congenital birth defect in the abdominal wall, the appearance of a hernia is difficult to prevent. However, there are several ways you can do to reduce the risk of weakening the abdominal wall, namely:
- Don't lift heavy weights too often
- Maintain body weight to stay ideal and healthy
- Eat high-fiber foods to prevent constipation so you don't have to strain too hard during your bowel movements
- Avoid smoking habits
- Undergo examination and treatment to the doctor if you have a chronic cough