An inguinal hernia is the most common type of hernia, accounting for over 70 per cent of all hernia cases. Men are most at risk, particularly as they age and their abdominal muscles become weaker.
An inguinal hernia occurs when part of your bowel pokes through a weak spot in the surrounding muscle wall, and moves into your groin. The weak area is called the inguinal canal, and is where such hernias get their name.
The main symptom of a inguinal hernia is a swelling in your groin which may or not be be painful. The swelling will often disappear when you lie down. Men may also experience an enlarged scrotum.
Most inguinal hernias are treated with surgery to push the protruding bowel back into place and to strengthen the abdominal wall. If left untreated, inguinal hernias can become strangulated and cut off the blood supply to the region. This can cause potentially life threatening conditions such as gangrene or peritonitis.
An inguinal hernia operation is a relatively simple procedure performed either through open surgery or by keyhole surgery. A local or general anesthetic will be administered, so you shouldn't feel any pain during the operation. However, minor discomfort is likely in the hours, and perhaps days, follwing surgery.
Recovery from an inguinal hernia operation will depend on a number of factors including the patient's age, the severity of the hernia, and the type of surgical technique used. You may be allowed to return home the same day as your operation or you may be required to stay in hospital for several nights.
When you do get home, it's important to realise that your body will need time to heal and recover. You must rest and avoid trying to do too much, too quickly. Inguinal hernias can reoccur very quickly if medical advice is not adhered to.
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