Inguinal Hernias

What is an inguinal hernia?

An inguinal hernia is the most common type of hernia. It is more common in men.

It occurs when part of the intestine or fatty tissue enters the groin region or the top of the inner thigh, resulting in a bulge and pain. Some inguinal hernias are congenital. Others occur due to aging or physical strain.

  • For men, the inguinal canal is the passage for the spermatic cord and blood vessels to reach the testicles.
  • For women, the inguinal canal contains the ligament that supports the uterus.

What are the symptoms?

  • Swelling or bulge in the groin
  • Pain when lifting or bearing down (such as during a bowel movement)
  • Bulge becomes larger in size over time
  • Disappearance and reappearance of the bulge with laughing, coughing, crying, or lifting.

How is it diagnosed?

Doctors use a physical exam and may use imaging studies, such as an ultrasound or a CT scan, to make a diagnosis. 

Why should I get my hernia repaired?

At present, the only treatment for a hernia is surgery. In addition to causing pain, they can trap, wrap around, or “strangle” part of the intestine, reducing the blood supply to the intestines. If left untreated, this would lead to severe pain, nausea, vomiting, and bowel obstruction and would require emergency surgery.

What is the surgical treatment?

Most inguinal hernias need to be repaired surgically. Our surgeons are experienced in minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery techniques using small incisions. This method allows for:

  • Faster recovery time
  • Decreased risk of infection
  • Less postoperative pain
  • A shorter hospital stay

Typically, surgeons make three small incisions near the umbilicus (belly button) and lower abdomen. They reduce the hernia and restore normal anatomy to the groin. Then they apply a piece of mesh over the area to support the repair. Some bilateral inguinal hernias can be repaired during the same operation, using the same incisions.

What can I expect after surgery?

Most patients are discharged the same day. When you go home:

  • Take pain relievers as prescribed by your surgeon
  • If you had general anesthesia, no driving for 24 hours. 
  • Return to driving and work within a week if you are off pain medication and follow the lifting restriction. 
  • Heavy lifting and strenuous activities should be avoided for the length of time recommended by the surgeon
  • Follow up with the surgeon in two to three weeks to plan a return to normal activities.
  • You and your surgeon will discuss any specific recovery instructions.

Contact us

Call (412) DOCTORS (412) 362-8677 or request an appointment to learn more about hernia services.

For follow-up questions related to your hernia care, contact the Comprehensive’s Hernia Center’s Clinical Coordinator, Jennifer Somers at (412) 578-4215 or at