Groin hernia

What is groin hernia?

The protrusion of fat or bowel through a defect in the abdominal wall around the groin through the inguinal or femoral canals.

To better understand what this means, it is important to be familiar with the basic anatomy (structure) of the groin.

  • The deep inguinal ring is a normal “hole” in the abdominal wall just above the groin which allows the spermatic cord structures to reach the testis (blood vessels and vas) or the round ligament in females to reach the labia majora.
  • The femoral ring is another natural hole next to the femoral vessels going from the abdomen into the leg. It is usually filled with fat and a couple of small lymph nodes.
  • The obturator foramen is another natural hole further down the sidewall of the pelvis.

Any hole in the body represents an area of potential weakness where hernias may arise.

  • In the inguinal region, a hernia can protrude through this natural hole (called an indirect inguinal hernia) or next to it towards the midline (a direct inguinal hernia).
  • In the femoral region, a hernia can protrude through the femoral canal (femoral hernia). It carries a higher risk of the bowel or fat being stuck (incarceration) and losing its blood supply (strangulation).
  • When the protrusion is through another natural hole called the obturator foramen, an obturator hernia results. This is a rarer type of hernia and is more likely to present with a bowel blockage (bowel obstruction) rather than a lump.

Repair of groin hernias can be done open or laparoscopic depending on patient factors and choice as well as hernia type, size and presentation. (see Groin hernia repair)