Inguinal Hernia - Inguinal Hernias Information, Inguinal Hernia repair, surgery,symptoms,picture


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Home :: Diseases I :: Inguinal Hernias

Inguinal Hernia - Inguinal Hernias Information, Inguinal Hernia repair, surgery,symptoms,picture

Inguinal Hernia - Inguinal Hernias Information

A hernia is defined as a protrusion of a portion of an organ or tissue through an abnormal opening. For groin (inguinal or femoral) hernias, this protrusion is into a hernial sac. Whether or not the mere presence of a hernial sac (or processus vaginalis) constitutes a hernia is debated. Inguinal hernias in children are almost exclusively indirect type. Those rare instances of direct inguinal hernia are caused by previous surgery and floor disruption.

An indirect inguinal hernia protrudes through the internal inguinal ring, within the cremaster fascia, extending down the spermatic cord for varying distances. The direct hernia protrudes through the posterior wall of the inguinal canal, i.e., medial to deep inferior epigastric vessels, destroying or stretching the transversalis fascia. The embryology of indirect inguinal hernia is as follows: the duct descending to the testicle is a small offshoot of the great peritoneal sac in the lower abdomen.

During the third month of gestation, the processus vaginalis extends down toward the scrotum and follows the chorda gubernaculum that extends from the testicle or the retroperitoneum to the scrotum.

During the seventh month, the testicle descend into the scrotum, where the processus vaginalis forms a covering for the testicle and the serous sac in which it resides. At about the time of birth, the portion of the processus vaginalis between the testicle and the abdominal cavity obliterates, leaving a peritoneal cavity separate from the tunica vaginalis that surrounds the testicle.

Approximately 1-3% of children have a hernia. For infants born prematurely, the incidence varies from 3-5%. The typical patient with an inguinal hernia has an intermittent lump or bulge in the groin, scrotum, or labia noted at times of increased intra-abdominal pressure. A communicating hydrocele is always associated with a hernia. This hydrocele fluctuates in size and is usually larger in ambulatory patients at the end of the day. If a loop of bowel becomes entrapped (incarcerated) in a hernia, the patient develops pain followed by signs of intestinal obstruction. If not reduced, compromised blood supply (strangulation) leads to perforation and peritonitis. Most incarcerated hernias in children can be reduced.

The incidence of inguinal hernia (IH) in premature babies (9-11%) is higher than full-term (3-5%), with a dramatic risk of incarceration (30%). Associated to these episodes of incarceration are chances of: gonadal infarction (the undescended testes complicated by a hernia are more vulnerable to vascular compromise and atrophy), bowel obstruction and strangulation. Symptomatic hernia can complicate the clinical course of babies at NICU ill with hyaline membrane, sepsis, NEC and other conditions needing ventilatory support.

Inguinal Hernia symptom

Symptoms of an inguinal hernia may include:

  • Groin discomfort or groin pain aggravated by bending or lifting
  • A tender groin lump or scrotum lump
  • A non-tender bulge or lump seen in children
  • Heaviness, swelling, and a tugging or burning sensation in the area of the hernia, scrotum, or inner thigh.
  • Discomfort and aching relieved only when the person lies down. This is often the case as the hernia grows larger.

Inguinal Hernia Repair - laparoscopic inguinal hernia repair

Repair should be undertaken before hospital discharge to avoid complications. Prematures have: poorly developed respiratory control center, collapsible rib cage, deficient fatigue-resistant muscular fibers in the diaphragm that predispose then to potential life-threatening post-op respiratory complications such as: need of assisted ventilation (most common), apnea and bradycardia, emesis, cyanosis and re-intubation (due to laryngospasm).

Outpatient repair is safer for those prematures above the 60 wk. of postconceptual age. The very low birth weight infant with symptomatic hernia can benefit from epidural anesthesia.
 At times, the indirect inguinal hernia will extend into the scrotum and can be reduced by external, gentle pressure. Occasionally, the hernia will present as a bulge in the soft tissue overlying the internal ring. It is sometimes difficult to demonstrate and the physician must rely on the patient's history of an intermittent bulge in the groin seen with crying, coughing or straining.

Independent risk factors associated to this complications are (1) history of RDS/bronchopulmonary dysplasia, (2) history of patent ductus arteriosus, (3) low absolute weight (< 1.5 Kg), and (4) anemia (Hgb < 10 gm- is associated to a higher incidence of post-op apnea). Postconceptual age (sum of intra- and extrauterine life) has been cited as the factor having greatest impact on post-op complications. These observation makes imperative that preemies (with post conceptual age of less than 45 weeks) be carefully monitored in-hospital for at least 24 hours after surgical repair of their hernias.

Inguinal Hernia treatment - inguinal hernia surgery

Elective herniorrhaphy at a near convenient time is treatment of choice. Since risk of incarceration is high in children, repair should be undertaken shortly after diagnosis. Simple high ligation of the sac is all that is required. Pediatric patients are allowed to return to full activity immediately after hernia repair. Patients presenting with incarceration should have an attempt at reduction (possible in greater than 98% with experience), and then admission for repair during that hospitalization. Bilateral exploration is done routinely by most experienced pediatric surgeons. Recently the use of groin laparoscopy through the hernial sac permits visualization of the contralateral side.

Approximately 1% of females with inguinal hernias will have the testicular feminization syndrome. Testicular feminization syndrome (TFS) is a genetic form of male pseudohermaphroditism (patient who is genetically 46 XY but has deficient masculinization of external genitalia) caused by complete or partial resistance of end organs to the peripheral effects of androgens. This androgenic insensitivity is caused by a mutation of the gene for androgenic receptor inherited as an X-linked recessive trait. In the complete form the external genitalia appear to be female with a rudimentary vagina, absent uterus and ovaries.

The infant may present with inguinal hernias that at surgery may  contain testes. Axillary/pubic hair is sparse and primary amenorrhea is present. The incomplete form may represent undervirilized infertile men. Evaluation should include: karyotype, hormonal assays, pelvic ultrasound, urethrovaginogram, gonadal biopsy and labial skin bx for androgen receptor assay. This patients will never menstruate or bear children. Malignant degeneration (germ cell tumors) of the gonads is increased (22-33%). Early gonadectomy is advised to: decrease the possible development of malignancy, avoid the latter psychological trauma to the older child, and eliminate risk of losing the pt during follow-up. Vaginal reconstruction is planned when the patient wishes to be sexually active. These children develop into very normal appearing females that are sterile since no female organs are present.

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