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Inguinal hernia repair (child)

3-minute read

This page will give you information about an inguinal hernia repair. If you have any questions, you should ask your GP or other relevant health professional.

What is an inguinal hernia?

An inguinal hernia is where the contents of the abdomen push down towards the scrotum in boys, or labia (folds of skin at the entrance of the vagina) in girls.

What are the benefits of surgery?

Your child should no longer have the hernia. Surgery should prevent your child from having any of the serious complications that a hernia can cause and allow them to return to normal activities.

Illustration showing an inguinal hernia in a boy.
An inguinal hernia in a boy.

Are there any alternatives to surgery?

A hernia will not get better without surgery.

What does the operation involve?

Inguinal hernias can be repaired using keyhole surgery but most inguinal hernias in children are repaired through a cut on the groin.

The operation is performed under a general anaesthetic and usually takes about an hour.

Your surgeon will make a cut on the groin and find the ‘hernial sac’.

In boys, the sac is stuck on to the blood vessels that supply the testicle. It is also stuck on to the vas, the tube that will carry sperm away from the testicle. In girls, the hernia can contain an ovary or part of the fallopian tube.

Your surgeon will put back the contents of the sac into the abdominal cavity and peel the sac away before tying it off.

What complications can happen?

Some of these can be serious and can even cause death.

General complications of any operation

  • pain
  • bleeding
  • unsightly scarring of the skin
  • inflammation
  • infection of the surgical site (wound)

Specific complications of this operation

  • developing a collection of blood or fluid under the wound
  • developing a hydrocele, which is a swelling around the testicle
  • injury to structures within the hernia that come from the abdomen
  • damage to nerves that supply the skin around the groin
  • damage of the blood supply to the testicle
  • the testicle may come to lie higher in the scrotum
  • damage to the vas

How soon will my child recover?

They should be able to go home the same day or the day after.

Your doctor will tell you when your child can return to school. This is usually after 5 to 7 days.

Most children make a full recovery and can return to normal activities.

Summary

An inguinal hernia is a common condition. It is caused by the contents of the abdomen pushing down towards the scrotum or labia. If left untreated, an inguinal hernia can cause serious complications.

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Last reviewed: September 2019


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