A femoral hernia results from the intra-abdominal tissues being pushed through a weak spot, when strained, into the femoral canal. The femoral canal is located below the inguinal ligament in the groin area. The femoral canal houses the femoral artery, small veins, and nerves.
Femoral hernias are uncommon. They are seen predominantly in females.
Hernias formed in the groin area are usually inguinal hernias. Femoral hernias account for 3 percent of all hernias. Femoral hernias are generally asymptomatic.
However, occasionally is known to lead to complications if the blood flow to the intestine gets obstructed.
One can be born with a weakened area in the femoral canal that weakens further with ageing. However, the exact cause of femoral hernias has not been conclusively identified.
Contributing factors are activities which put pressure or strain on the muscles weakening them, leading to femoral hernia. Following are the factors that cause strain:
Symptoms of small to moderately sized hernias generally go unnoticed. Even the bulge may not be noticeable.
The symptoms are noticeable and can cause discomfort only when the bulge grows large. Until it starts to cause pain when standing up, lifting heavy articles, or strain in any other form. As they are located very close to the hipbone, they may cause pain in the hip.
Severe symptoms for femoral hernia indicate that the intestines are being obstructed due to the hernia and need immediate medical attention. Severe symptoms include:
The doctor begins with a physical examination by feeling the size of the bulge while the patient is standing. He may ask the patient to cough to get a better understanding of the size.
Imaging is recommended, should the hernia be small and not easily palpable. Imaging will depict the condition of the muscle wall and the extent of the bulging tissue.
Small and moderate-sized femoral hernias are generally monitored over a period of time by the consulting doctor.
The hernias causing painful or discomforting symptoms need surgical intervention. The surgeon may take a call depending on reports from the diagnoses to decide which surgery to perform.
Other factors such as anticipated complication, expense, time of recovery also need consideration before deciding the mode of surgery.
Open Hernia Repair
This procedure is done under local anesthesia and sedation or even general anesthesia. The patient is asleep during the procedure and cannot feel the pain.
A large incision is made in the groin area and the bulging tissue is pushed back into the abdomen. The weakened area is then stitched. It may also be reinforced with a synthetic mesh. The incision is then closed with surgical glue, staples, or stitches.
It is a minimally invasive surgery in which four small keyhole-sized incisions are made.
A small tube connected to a small camera (laparoscope) is inserted along with tiny instruments through the other incisions to repair the hernia.
Recovery post-surgery is easier and it is an effective alternative for recurrent hernias or bilateral hernias. Recovery is rapid with laparoscopic surgery compared to open repair. Although, laparoscopic surgery is more expensive the open repair surgery.
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