Indirect Inguinal Hernia Symptoms & Treatment
Indirect inguinal hernias are congenital. In the fetus, the peritoneum (the membrane forming the lining of the abdominal cavity) provides a coat to the testicle as it passes through the inguinal ring, forming a temporary connection called the processus vaginalis.
Indirect Inguinal Hernia Cause and Diagnosis
In normal development, the processus will be obliterated once the testicles have completely descended. The inguinal ring remains as an opening. When that opening is larger than it needs to be, it creates the possibility of an indirect inguinal hernia developing. The hernia occurs when abdominal contents protrude through the inguinal ring and enter than inguinal canal.
Inguinal hernias are only 4% as likely to occur in females as in males. However, if one does develop, it most often an indirect inguinal hernia. The process, of course, is different in females, since it is not associated with the dropping of testicles. It is called labium majoris, and will become evident as one labium can become dramatically larger than the other.
Indirect Inguinal Hernia Treatment
Indirect inguinal hernias are most common in children and young people, and may be present at birth. An indirect inguinal hernia can only be repaired through surgery. If the hernia is discovered at birth, it is possible to perform the surgery immediately. Some physicians, however, elect to wait until the child reaches the age of two. Surgery is also the standard treatment when indirect hernias are discovered in older children and adults.
If bowel becomes trapped, or “incarcerated,” in an indirect inguinal hernia, it constitutes a medical emergency because the blood supply may be cut off to the bowel, creating serious complications.
These hernias are called “indirect” because the term ‘indirect’ refers to the fact that the bowel and peritoneal protrusion do not herniate directly through a weakness in the abdominal musculature. Instead, the bowel and peritoneal fluid move through a patent processus vaginalis into the scrotum. Direct inguinal hernias, on the other hand, occur due to weakness in the bottom of the inguinal canal.
As with all abdominal hernias, these hernias will not correct themselves. They will not get “better” on their own, but can get worse as they grow. If one is discovered, a health care professional should be consulted right away.