A hernia is when a sac from the abdomen bulges through the muscles of the abdominal wall.  In children, this condition is considered congenital rather than something that develops from overuse or weakness, like in adults.  A groin hernia happens when organs or abdominal tissue push through a hole in your child's abdominal wall where the thigh meets the trunk. Groin hernias are more common in males and premature babies.  However, approximately 3-5% of healthy, full-term babies are born with an inguinal hernia.

Possible Symptoms

The main symptom of an inguinal hernia/hydrocele is a bulge in the groin or scrotum that comes and goes. It often appears when the child has been crying or straining and then goes away when the child is resting. The child might also be fussy and not eat well.

  • A bulge or lump at the groin (that can get bigger and smaller)
  • Vomiting
  • Swollen belly
  • The bulging area turns red or blue
  • A heavy or tugging feeling in the groin area
  • Pain that gets worse when bending over, straining, lifting, coughing, or otherwise using the muscles near the groin
  • Pain that improves during rest
  • In males, a swollen or enlarged scrotum (hydrocele)

Possible Treatments

Inguinal hernias and need to be repaired with an operation to prevent the intestine from getting stuck in them (incarcerated).  This procedure can be performed laparoscopically (keyhole incisions) or through a small incision in the groin. Children that have a hernia repair usually go home the same day with very few post-operative restrictions.

Your child will receive expert care from the surgeons and anesthesiologists at Arkansas Children's. We offer minimally invasive surgery techniques with minimal wait times.

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