Groin hernias

What is a groin hernia?

Groin hernias are protrusions of the abdominal contents through abnormal openings in the abdominal wall and can be divided into inguinal and femoral hernias.

There are different types of groin hernias, namely:

The most feared complications of groin hernias (and most other hernias) are incarceration (inability to reduce the hernia) and strangulation (the blood supply to the hernia contents is cut off possibly leading to necrosis and perforation of the contents). Most hernias will need to be repaired in order to avoid the potential complications; however, if hernias are very small with no symptoms surgery might not be necessary.

How are groin hernias treated?

Procedures to repair groin hernias can be divided into tension repairs or tension-free repairs; tissue-based repairs or mesh-based repairs and open or minimally invasive repairs.

Minimally invasive ('keyhole') procedures involve Dr Cooper stripping off the inner membrane (the peritoneum) lining the abdominal wall from inside the abdomen. The surgeon will then view the hernia opening from inside the abdomen. A tension-free mesh is placed over each hernia opening, and the peritoneum is again allowed to cover the mesh, thus preventing adhesions to the bowel. Three ports are used, resulting in only 1x10mm and 2x5mm incisions. These hernia repair procedures can be done in a totally extra-peritoneal (TEP) manner or in a trans-abdominal pre-peritoneal (TAPP) manner. The advantages of minimally invasive or 'keyhole' surgery have been discussed extensively elsewhere on this site and are also applicable to groin hernia surgery.

Complications of groin hernia surgery are rare, but can include: