An explanation of Inguinal Hernia Repair and treatment options.

Inguinal Hernia Repair

As the name suggests, this is an operation that is performed in children to correct an inguinal hernia. In any child that has an inguinal hernia, an operation is necessary as inguinal hernias do not disappear of their own accord. In children under the age of 1 year the possibility of complications occurring as a result of inguinal hernia is high, and because of this, the operation should be performed within a few weeks after the diagnosis has been made.
How is it performed?

Under a general anaesthetic, a cut is made in the inguinal region of the groin. The pouch or 'sac' through which the hernia has protruded, is carefully separated from the adjacent vas deferens and blood vessels supplying the testicle, in boys. Once the sac is completely separate, it is divided and tied off flush with the inside of the abdominal cavity. During the operation, the nerves to the area of the cut are anaesthetised using local anaesthetic. Multiple stitches are used, however, they are not visible at the end of the operation and dissolve of their own accord over the subsequent 1-2 months. The operation takes up to 45 minutes, including anaesthetic time, and the child is sent home once he or she has recovered from the anaesthetic usually after 2-3 hours.

What happens after the operation?

After the operation, the child is usually comfortable and may only need 1-2 doses of painkillers, by mouth, over the next 24 hours. There is no need to avoid bathing quickly or showering when the child is comfortable. The most common complications of the operation are bruising and infection. The bleeding or bruising usually stops of its own accord but may sometimes require a little pressure on the area. If infection occurs, it usually happens 2-3 days later and may require antibiotics, either from the Paediatric Surgeon or the General Practitioner.

What are the dangers of inguinal hernias?

In those babies who have had an inguinal hernia that has become stuck, there is a higher risk of damage to the bowel that is stuck in the hernia. Damage to the blood supply of the testicle may also have occurred. Unfortunately, some of these babies have already suffered resultant damage to their testicle by the time they come to an operation. The testicle that has been affected in these babies will either decrease in size or, if the damage has been more severe, will wither away to almost nothing.

What are the results following an operation?

The operation for inguinal hernia repair in children is extremely successful and the chance of recurrence is less than 1%. The scar will become barely visible if it is located in line with a skin crease.