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Femoral hernia: everything you need to know

A femoral hernia mostly occurs in women.

What is a femoral hernia and how can it be treated? 

A femoral hernia is an uncommon type of hernia .A femoral hernia can appear as a painful lump on the inner and upper area of your thigh and groin. Although this type of hernia is rare in children, it can often appear in women due to the increased width of the pelvis (the lower part of the abdomen) in women. 

We investigate the causes of a femoral hernia, the symptoms to look out for and how a femoral hernia can be treated. 

Femoral hernias occur when a piece of intestine pokes through a weakness in the femoral canal, around the groin and abominable wall, where the femoral artery has more space to move. This can be fixed by femoral hernia surgery

A build-up of pressure within the abdomen can push a piece of the intestine into the femoral canal (this is tubular passage at the front of your thigh). This pressure can vary from prolonged constipation, swelling of your internal organs (such as the bowels themselves), obesity, or ascites (fluid build-up in the abdomen). Likewise, pregnancy can cause inguinal hernias in the mother for the same reason.

Straining on the toilet, whether for passing a stool or urinating, can force the intestine to pop out of the femoral canal. Likewise, if you are giving birth the likelihood of a femoral hernia developing increases as the pressure on the lower abdomen grows.

Engaging in heavy lifting, such as in the gym, in your workplace, or at home, can increase the risk of developing a femoral hernia. Here, it is important to comply with situational instructions and making sure you take it easy when engaging in these risky activities.

Long-term, chronic, or heavy coughs can shock your intestine into pushing through a weak-spot around your femoral canal.

It is important to have a femoral hernia treated quickly, as there is a high risk of it becoming strangulated and rupturing within your femoral canal. This is because of the position of the femoral artery, around your groin and leg joint.

Likewise, a femoral hernia can block the femoral canal, making blood flow through the artery more difficult.

In some cases you may not even realise you have a femoral hernia. Small and moderate-sized hernias don’t usually cause any symptoms, and in many cases you may not even see the bulge of a small femoral hernia.

Large hernias may be more noticeable and can cause some discomfort. A bulge may be visible in the groin area near your upper thigh.

The bulging may become worse and can cause pain when you stand up, lift heavy objects, or strain. Femoral hernias are often located very close to the hip bone and as a result may cause hip pain.

Severe symptoms can signify that a femoral hernia is obstructing your intestines. Severe symptoms of a femoral hernia may include:

  • Severe stomach pain
  • Sudden pain in your groin
  • Nausea and/or vomiting

Call 999 and seek immediate medical attention if you suffer from these symptoms. Emergency treatment can fix the hernia and save your life.

A femoral hernia can be generally treated by surgery, either in open surgery or with key-hole surgery (laparoscopically). Generally, surgeons prefer key-hole surgery as it is quicker, less invasive, and means you can recover quicker. The time between diagnosis and private hernia surgery is often less than a month, ensuring you receive rapid and world-class treatment.

Laparoscopic surgery for femoral hernias

Our laparoscopic surgery requires a few small incisions around the groin using a machine controlled by experienced and highly skilled clinicians. You will be placed under general anaesthetic for the procedure.

Using a lightweight, synthetic mesh, our surgeons push the femoral hernia out of the femoral canal and back into the abdominal cavity, and cover it in a lightweight synthetic mesh which strengthens the abdominal wall, preventing the hernia from popping out again. This technique is referred to as an umbrella hernia repair.

Previous patients who have received this treatment with the mesh have recommended it rather than a manual pulling of the muscles together to heal the weakness, which can be more intrusive. This less invasive surgery takes 45 minutes from start to finish, and is a day-care case, meaning you can arrive and leave on the day of the surgery.

Risks associated with femoral hernia surgery are generally uncommon, however, they still exist. Indeed, they are more common in older individuals than younger individuals.

Your Consultant will advise you on the following risks: general surgical difficulties, such as blood clots, damage to your internal organs, nerve damage, scarring, and infections from the wound.

More pertinent to femoral hernia surgery is that there may be difficulty passing urine or stools after the surgery, as well as temporary weakness around the leg joint and muscles down the leg.

A consultation with one of our specialists can help diagnose and treat your symptoms.

You can speak to a specialist by calling us directly or booking your appointment online.