Inguinal hernias require an operation, and to avoid the risk of abdominal organs becoming incarcerated, this is generally done as soon as possible. In premature infants, who are only several months old, surgery may be postponed for two to three months to ensure that the lungs are functioning properly.
Surgery is carried out under general anesthesia. A small incision is made in the groin. The hernia sac is identified and repaired. The incision is closed with dissolving stitches. Tissue glue and Steri-Strips (strong tape that sticks for seven to 10 days) are used to seal the surface of the incision. During the procedure, a generous amount of long-acting numbing medicine (local anesthetic) is injected around the incision to help control pain.
Most children who undergo hernia repairs go home the same day after a short stay in recovery; however, premature infants may require an overnight stay. Most children are able to return to normal activities, even sports, with no restrictions within a few days. The length of time sports activities are restricted depends on the age of the child and the sports activity.
In cases where a large inguinal hernia extends down into the scrotum, the scrotum may swell after surgery. It may appear as though the hernia has come back. This swelling is normal and will go away on its own within several weeks to months.