Healthy Living

Femoral Hernia: Get the Facts

Femoral Hernia: Get the Facts

Key Takeaways

  • Femoral hernia mainly occurs in women.
  • A person who has weaker femoral canal by birth can be at risk of femoral hernia.
  • Femoral hernia may cause immense pain in hips in severe cases.

Our human bodies are a complex network of nerves, blood vessels, muscles, visceral organs, etc. While our skin is the outermost layer holding everything together, on the inside it is the network of strong muscle fiber that holds all our internal organs in place. A hernia occurs when, for whatever reason, there is a weak spot in this network of muscle, and some of the internal organs or fatty tissue start to push through this spot. In some cases this is not life threatening, but in more serious cases that are left untreated, hernias can be very painful and also lead to severe organ damage and death.

This article gives you all the facts on femoral hernias:

Femoral hernia also known as femorocele occurs when your inner abdominal tissues protrude through the weaker wall of femoral canal. This kind of hernia appears as a lump near the thigh or groin. The femoral canal contains smaller veins, artery and nerves. It is more prominent when you stand upright and is pushed back when you lie down. Femoral hernias are less common than inguinal hernias which also occur in the groin.

Who is at risk?

Femoral hernia mainly occurs in women and it is normally asymptotic. However, immediate medical attention is required when the intestines become strangulated, which leads to the blockage of blood supply. Prolonged blockage of blood supply will lead to severe tissue damage and therefore must receive immediate medical attention. 

Causes of femoral hernia

While the exact cause of femoral hernia isn’t known, a person who has weaker femoral canal by birth can be at risk of this condition. The femoral canal can also get weakened over time. When the pressure is put on the weakened muscles, it causes hernia. Some of the factors that may overstrain the muscles include:

  • Frequent Constipation
  • Pregnancy
  • Lifting Heavy loads
  • Being Overweight or Obesity
  • Difficulty while urinating

Symptoms of femoral hernia

Since small and medium-sized femoral hernias are asymptomatic, you may not be able to realize that you have one. However, large hernias are visible and usually associated with pain and discomfort. Because femoral hernia is located very close to the hip bone, it may cause immense pain in your hips in severe cases. When intestine strangulation occurs, it may put the patient's’ life at risk. In such severe cases, the patient may experience symptoms like vomiting, nausea, or pain the groin and stomach.

Diagnosis of femoral hernia

Your doctor may perform a physical examination to diagnose femoral hernia. He may also perform an Ultrasound of the groin and abdomen to confirm the condition.

Treatment of femoral hernia

Small to moderate-sized femoral hernias don’t necessarily need any specific sort of treatment unless immense pain and discomfort is experienced by the person. In such cases, doctor may suggest to you surgery which is performed under the administered general anesthesia. Surgery is especially needed when strangulation of intestine occurs. In some cases, a section of bowel also becomes stuck in the femoral canal. This is also when the surgery is required. Femoral surgery can be performed in 2 ways - open and laparoscopic. While open procedure involves a single large cut at the affected area and have long recovery period, laparoscopic surgery involves several smaller incisions and have shorter recovery period.

Before the surgery the patient will be given special instructions about a required fasting period, etc. Both types of surgeries will involve the surgeon pushing the lump of fatty tissue or intestine back into place and then repairing the weakened part of the muscle with the help of a mesh plug. Finally the surgeon will close the incision or incisions using sutures, or surgical glue. 

Risks associated with femoral surgery

Just like any other operation, some risks are associated with femoral surgery too. Although, most of the time, the operation is successful, one may experience complications in rare cases, which include:

  • A lump below the incised area
  • Difficulty while urinating
  • Femoral vein may become injured
  • Bowel may become injured
  • Temporary weakness of the leg
  • Pain or numbness in the groin area

Conclusion

Femoral hernias occur when a bit of fatty tissue or intestine pushes through a weakened spot in the muscle network into the femoral canal at the groin and forms a lump. Femoral hernias are more common in women because of the wider pelvis. While in some cases femoral hernias are small and have no symptoms, in other cases the lump might be larger and even painful. If a part of the intestine becomes trapped in the hernia, the patient could experience severe stomach pain, nausea and vomiting. This is a dangerous condition that could lead to loss of blood supply to the trapped part of the intestine, and ultimately tissue damage. This condition needs immediate surgery to release the trapped part of the intestine. Surgery might be open surgery with one incision of about three to four centimeters, or a laparoscopic surgery with three smaller incisions. Both types of surgery could last for half an hour to forty five minutes. In the event that part of the intestine has suffered damage due to loss of blood supply then that portion would need to be removed and the two healthy ends joined together, in this case the surgery might take more time.

Post surgery the patient needs to follow the care guidelines provided by the hospital. Medical help should be sought if the patient experiences any of the following symptoms after the operation:

  1. Fever
  2. Abdominal pain
  3. Abdominal swelling
  4. Bleeding at the sight of the incision
  5. Redness around the incision
  6. Nausea and vomiting
  7. Difficulty passing urine

The outlook

While femoral hernia is not life-threatening, certain complications as mentioned above can be fatal. Therefore, it is advised to seek medical attention immediately of your experience any of the above mentioned symptoms. Apart from that, adopting positive lifestyle changes can bring a lot of improvement in your condition.

Maintaining a healthy and diet and lifestyle, which leads to good digestion and bowel movements, and avoiding excessive strain on the lower abdomen, could not only help in preventing a femoral hernia, but will also help prevent the recurrence of one after surgery.