A hernia is the swelling or protrusion of an organ through an opening in the abdominal wall. An inguinal hernia occurs in the groin area when part of the intestine slips through a tear in the abdominal muscle and protrudes through a weakened spot in the inguinal canal, which is an opening in the lower abdomen.
An outpatient surgical procedure is normally required to repair an inguinal hernia. A small incision is made in the groin area and the segment of bowel is pushed back into the abdominal cavity. The abdominal muscle is then stitched closed to repair the hernia.
Inguinal hernias are common in children and usually appear before an infant is one year of age. In adults, the cause of hernias is unknown, but hernias are commonly thought to be associated with lifting heavy objects.