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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.

You can also download and print a PDF version of this factsheet, with space for your own questions or notes.

What is an inguinal hernia?

An inguinal hernia happens at the inguinal canal. This is a narrow passage where, in boys, blood vessels supplying the testicle pass through the abdominal wall. In girls, the connection is between the abdomen and labia.

The passage usually closes shortly after your child is born. If it remains open, the contents of the abdomen can push down towards the scrotum or labia.

A hernia can be dangerous because the intestines or other structures within the abdomen can get trapped and have their blood supply cut off (strangulated hernia).

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

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.

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 remove the ‘hernial sac’.

What complications can happen?

General complications

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

Specific complications

  • developing a collection of blood or fluid
  • developing a swelling around the testicle
  • injury to structures within the hernia
  • injury to nerves
  • damage of the blood supply to the testicle
  • the testicle may come to lie higher in the scrotum
  • damage to the tube that carries sperm

How soon will my child recover?

Your child 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.

Most children make a full recovery. However, the hernia can come back.

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.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION
The operation and treatment information on this page is published under license by Healthdirect Australia from EIDO Healthcare Australia and is protected by copyright laws. Other than for your personal, non-commercial use, you may not copy, print out, download or otherwise reproduce any of the information. The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

For more on how this information was prepared, click here.

Last reviewed: September 2018

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