Inguinal hernia

An inguinal hernia is the pushing out of abdominal organs, such as your intestines, through a weak area in your groin, called the inguinal canal.

What is an inguinal hernia?

An inguinal hernia is where abdominal tissue, such as your bowel, protrudes through your groin. It can cause a painful hernia lump that is apparent when you stand or cough and goes away when you lie down.

Inguinal hernias are fairly common and occur mainly in men.

An inguinal hernia will not improve on its own. It is not necessarily dangerous but it can lead to life-threatening complications.

If you have hernia pain or your inguinal hernia is getting larger, your surgeon will most likely recommend inguinal hernia repair surgery, a commonly performed operation.

What causes an inguinal hernia?

Inguinal hernias happen because of weakened or deteriorating abdominal muscles that are caused by:

  • Age
  • Strenuous physical activity
  • Carrying heavy loads
  • Chronic coughing or sneezing
  • An increase in pressure in your abdomen such as pregnancy
  • Straining during bowel movements or urination
  • A pre-existing weak spot in your abdominal wall
  • An injury or abdominal surgery

Some babies are born with a weakened abdominal wall as their abdominal lining doesn’t close properly, and are susceptible to inguinal hernias at a very early age.

What happens if an inguinal hernia is left untreated?

An inguinal hernia that is left untreated may stay the same or get larger and more painful. It will not get any smaller or heal on its own.

An inguinal hernia that gets bigger becomes more susceptible to incarceration and strangulation.

An incarcerated hernia happens when your herniated tissue becomes trapped and cannot easily be moved back into place. It can lead to a bowel obstruction that causes severe pain, nausea, vomiting, and the inability to have a bowel movement or pass gas.

In extreme cases, an incarcerated hernia may cut off the blood supply to part of your intestine. This is a medical emergency and is known as hernia strangulation. It can have serious implications and, in some cases, lead to life-threatening complications.

Your doctor will usually recommend inguinal hernia repair surgery if you have an enlarged or painful hernia to relieve your discomfort and to prevent serious complications. Inguinal hernia repair is a very common surgical operation that can be performed by open or laparoscopic surgery. The decision on the type of surgery will be discussed in detail with you at your consultation and is based on your preferred method and your surgeon's experience.

What is the recovery process after an inguinal hernia procedure?

You can expect to go home the same day or the day after your inguinal hernia procedure. You will need a lift home and an adult to stay with you for 24 hours after your surgery.

You need to eat a healthy high-fibre diet and drink plenty of fluids to avoid constipation, and to care for your wound. You should follow any specific aftercare instructions that our hospital staff give you. You can continue to take hospital-advised painkillers if you have pain.

You can gradually get back to your daily activities, as long as they aren’t causing you pain. As a guide, you can expect to drive, perform light activities such as shopping, and go back to work within two weeks.

You should avoid heavy lifting and strenuous activities until four to six weeks after your operation. Most people feel fully recovered after six weeks.

What is the cost of an inguinal hernia procedure?

The cost of an inguinal hernia procedure will depend on whether you have open or keyhole surgery and your Ramsay hospital of choice.

This is a guide package price that estimates the costs of your surgery. You will receive a formal quotation price following your consultation with one of our expert surgeons. This formal quote for your inguinal hernia procedure will be valid for 60 days and includes unlimited aftercare.

We have a number of finance options if you are paying for your inguinal hernia repair surgery yourself. These include:

  • Interest-free finance - requires no deposit, offers the ability to pay in monthly instalments, and benefits from 0% interest
  • All-inclusive Total Care - a single one-off payment at a pre-agreed price that delivers direct access to all the treatment you need for complete reassurance
  • Pay as you go – a flexible funding option if your treatment costs are difficult to assess, that allows you to meet your treatment costs as and when they arise.

Inguinal hernia repair surgery is covered by most medical insurance policies. We advise you to check with your insurance provider and obtain their written authorisation before starting your treatment.

Inguinal hernia surgery at Ramsay Health Care

Inguinal hernia surgery is routinely performed by our expert consultant surgeons at Ramsay Health Care UK to relieve your hernia pain and symptoms. Our consultant-led care ensures one point of contact and we will keep in touch with you virtually.

Our local hospitals offer you rapid and easy access to inguinal hernia appointments and surgery to conveniently evaluate and treat your hernia.

We have strict protocols in place to minimise your risk of infection whilst receiving care at one of our Ramsay hospitals for additional safety reassurance. These include social distancing in our waiting areas, optimised patient flows, additional cleaning rotas for common touchpoint areas, and adequate PPE.

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