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Open inguinal hernia repair (male)

3-minute read

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

What is an inguinal hernia?

Your abdominal cavity contains your intestines and other structures. These are protected by your abdominal wall, which is made up of four layers.

Weak spots can develop in the layer of muscle, resulting in the contents of your abdomen, along with the inner layer, pushing through your abdominal wall. This produces a lump called a hernia.

An inguinal hernia happens at the inguinal canal. This is a narrow passage in which blood vessels supplying your testicle pass through your abdominal wall.

Illustration of an inguinal hernia.
An inguinal hernia.

What are the benefits of surgery?

You should no longer have the hernia. Surgery should prevent the serious complications that a hernia can cause and allow you to return to normal activities.

Are there any alternatives to an open inguinal hernia repair?

Inguinal hernias can be repaired using keyhole surgery and this may be appropriate for you.

You can sometimes control the hernia with a truss (padded support belt) or simply leave it alone. It will not get better without surgery.

What does the operation involve?

Various anaesthetic techniques are possible.

The operation usually takes about 45 minutes.

Your surgeon will make a cut on your groin and remove the 'hernial sac'. They will strengthen the muscle layer with stitches, usually inserting a synthetic mesh to cover the weak spot, and close your skin.


What complications can happen?

Some complications can be serious and can even cause death.

General complications of any operation

  • pain
  • bleeding
  • infection of the surgical site (wound)
  • unsightly scarring of your skin
  • blood clot in your leg
  • blood clot in your lung

Specific complications of this operation

  • developing a collection of blood (haematoma) or fluid (seroma)
  • difficulty passing urine
  • injury to structures that come from your abdomen and are within the hernia
  • temporary weakness of your leg
  • continued discomfort or pain in your groin
  • damage to nerves
  • damage to the blood supply of your testicle

How soon will I recover?

You should be able to go home the same day.

Increase how much you walk around over the first few days.

You should be able to return to work after 2 to 4 weeks, depending on how much surgery you need and your type of work. Do not lift anything heavy for at least 6 weeks.

Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice.

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

However, the hernia can come back.

Summary

An inguinal hernia is a common condition caused by a weakness in your abdominal wall, near the inguinal canal. 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.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: September 2019


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