A groin or inguinal hernia is a bulge in the groin area. It happens when soft tissue pushes through a weak spot in the abdominal wall. Sometimes the tissue also passes down a canal that links the scrotum to the abdominal area. This canal is called the inguinal canal.

Inguinal Hernias
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A hernia may be from:

  • A large inguinal canal
  • A weakened area in the lower abdominal muscles

Risk Factors

Groin hernias are more common in boys than girls. It is also more common in babies that are born early.


A bulge is the most common symptom. It may be easier to see this bulge when your child is crying. If your child is relaxed, the bulge may look smaller. Your child may also have some pain in the area.

Hernias can sometimes get caught in the abdominal wall. This is called a strangulated hernia. It can lead to more serious problems. Your child may have:

  • Vomiting
  • Swollen belly

A strangulated hernia needs emergency care.


You will be asked about your child’s symptoms and health history. A physical exam will also be done. The doctor will be able to feel your child’s hernia.

Pictures may be taken of your child’s body. This can be done with:


Most groin hernias need surgery. The surgery may be:

  • Open surgery—A cut is made over the area so the doctor has access to the tissue. This may be needed if there are problems.
  • Laparoscopic surgery—Small cuts are made so specialized tools can be used to make the repairs.

If your premature baby has a groin hernia, surgery may not happen until later.


A groin hernia can’t be prevented.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: Kari Kassir, MD
  • Review Date: 05/2018 -
  • Update Date: 07/02/2018 -