Facts you should know about direct vs. indirect hernias
What are inguinal hernias?
Inguinal hernias are not dangerous itself but can lead to significant complications especially if the intestinal tissue loses its blood supply. Usually, the hernia can be pushed back in or even slides back when the patient lays down. If the hernia cannot be pushed back in, it is considered incarcerated (the contents of the hernia are trapped). This will usually lead to severe pain, as well as nausea and vomiting. If the blood supply is cut off, the hernia is considered strangulated. A strangulated hernia is life-threatening and requires immediate surgery.
Inguinal hernias are divided into direct and indirect hernias.
What is a direct hernia?
Most commonly, this hernia is found in adult males.
What is an indirect hernia?
An indirect hernia is caused by a birth defect in the abdominal wall.
What are causes and risk factors of direct and indirect hernias?
The hernias usually appear after increased abdominal pressure, such as straining or lifting a heavy object. Often they are linked to a weak spot in the abdominal wall that can be present since birth or secondary to abdominal surgery, injuries, or develop over time.
What are signs and symptoms of direct and indirect hernias?
A bulge is usually visible in your inguinal area (groin). This bulge might become more obvious on standing or when lifting or coughing (straining). There might be pain or discomfort in the groin. If the hernia pushed into your scrotum, pain and swelling around the testicle will be present.
In newborns, the hernia might be visible when the child cries or coughs.
How do health care professionals diagnose hernias, and what is the treatment for direct and indirect hernias?
If the hernia is not painful and not too large, you can choose to watch it without any specific therapy. Depending on your lifestyle and the discomfort level, you might choose surgery to fix the hernia.
An enlarging hernia, or significant pain, will usually require surgery to alleviate the symptoms.
Any hernia that cannot be reduced (pushed back in) will require surgery.
Hernia repair can take place in two different ways: open hernia repair and laparoscopic repair.
The open procedure requires an incision, pushing the hernia back in, and then repairing the weak area.
During the laparoscopic procedure, the surgeon will repair the hernia via several small incisions and guidance by a small camera inserted through one of the incisions.
Is it possible to prevent direct and indirect hernias?
In many cases, it is impossible to prevent inguinal hernias as the weakness in the abdominal wall is present since birth. Avoiding straining, heavy lifting, and treating chronic cough can be helpful preventive measures.