A hernia [HUR-nee-uh] is a bulging organ or tissue that can happen in different parts of your child’s body. When it happens in the groin — the place where the upper leg meets the abdomen — it’s called an inguinal [ING-gwuh-nal] hernia. With an inguinal hernia, intestines or fat tissue push through a weak spot. This can look like a bulge in your child’s groin area. If your child is a male, this type of hernia can cause swelling of the scrotum.
Inguinal hernia repair is a surgery to repair the weak area in your child’s groin. It’s a common surgery and is usually very successful. It can be done as a laparoscopic [LAP-er-uh-SKOP-ik] surgery or an open surgery.
In laparoscopic surgery, the surgeon makes 2 or 3 very small cuts near the hernia and reaches it with long, thin tools. A laparoscope (a tiny camera) shows the hernia on a screen.
In open surgery, the surgeon makes one longer incision (cut) over the hernia and opens the skin.
Inguinal surgery is usually safe, but there are risks and possible problems that you should be aware of and talk to your doctor about. These risks can include:
- Injury to your child’s veins, nerves, or bladder.
- Blockage in your child’s digestive tract.
- A bad reaction to the anesthesia, such as an allergy, nausea, vomiting, sore throat, or headache.
- An infection, excess bleeding, or blood clots at the site of the incision.
- The need to have more than one surgery to fix the problem.
Talk to your doctor about what you can do to prepare your child for this procedure. Depending on the specific surgery your child needs, your doctor may:
- Ask your child not to eat or drink for several hours before the surgery.
- Give your child medicine to take before the surgery to calm them down or help them sleep.
Hernia repair surgery usually lasts about an hour. These are things that will happen during that time:
- Anesthesia. Your child will be given anesthesia medicine so they don’t feel any pain. This may be general anesthesia, which will make your child sleep and prevent them from feeling or remembering the surgery. Your child may also have a regional or a local anesthesia. These prevent feeling in the area of the surgery.
- Repairs. The surgeon will make one or more incisions to reach the hernia. In most cases, the tissue can be pushed back into place. Then, the surgeon will repair the weak muscle layer. A piece of mesh material may be sewn over the weak area to strengthen it.
- Other steps. If the hernia was strangulated and tissue was damaged, your surgeon may also need to remove or repair that tissue.
- Closing the incisions. The surgeon will close your child’s incisions with stitches or staples. They will be removed when your child’s incisions have healed.
After the surgery, your child will remain in the hospital for most of the day.
- Monitoring your recovery. Right after the surgery, your child will be transferred to a recovery area where they will be watched until the anesthesia wears off.
- Activity. Many doctors recommend their patients get up and walk around the day of surgery.
- Going home. Your child should be able to go home the day of surgery. Talk to your doctor and your surgeon about when it will be safe to bring your child home.