Medical Q&As

Inguinal hernia - repair needed?

In the last few months I have developed a soft swelling in my left groin that worsens after long periods of standing. This swelling is reducible when I press on it. It is absent in the mornings. I've been told it's probably an inguinal hernia. It is rather insignificant at the moment and does not cause me any pain. Should I be concerned about this and get it seen to sooner rather than later?

Your question succinctly describes the hallmark features of an inguinal hernia. These hernias tend to develop after periods of prolonged standing and usually reduce after a nights sleep. The principle concern with these hernias is that they can strangulate, which means that the loop of gut that gives rise to the groin swelling becomes trapped and irreducible and can quickly become gangrenous if the hernia is not surgically reduced. It is unlikely that a small hernia, such as you describe, would become trapped. However, your idea of a small hernia might not concur with mine. I think it best that you visit your GP and have the hernia examined. If the doctor agrees that it is small then an elective repair could be performed at some point in the future without any great sense of urgency. Hernias tend to grow larger over time and do not disappear. Surgical repair is the treatment of choice for inguinal hernias.