Inguinal hernia and hydrocele
Why does my child have a hernia?
A hernia can develop during the first few months after your baby is born because of a weakness in the muscles of her abdomen.
What is an inguinal hernia?
As a male fetus grows and matures in the womb, testicles develop in the abdomen and then move down into the scrotum through an area called the inguinal canal.
Shortly after the baby is born, the inguinal canal closes, preventing the testicles from moving back into the abdomen. If this area doesn’t close off completely, a loop of intestine can move into the inguinal canal through the weakened area of the lower abdominal wall, causing a hernia.
Why is an inguinal hernia a concern?
Sometimes, the loop of intestine that protrudes through a hernia may become stuck and can’t be gently pushed back into the abdominal cavity. When this happens, that section of intestine may lose its blood supply. A good blood supply is necessary for the intestine to be healthy and function properly.
What are the symptoms of an inguinal hernia?
Hernias usually occur in newborns, but may not be noticeable for several weeks or months.
- Inguinal hernias appear as a bulge or swelling in the groin or scrotum.
- The swelling may be more noticeable when your baby cries, and may get smaller or go away when your baby relaxes.
- If your physician pushes gently on this bulge when your baby is calm and lying down, it will usually get smaller or go back into the abdomen.
How did my son get a hydrocele?
During the eighth month of pregnancy, the testicles move from the abdomen into the scrotum. When the testicle travels downward, it brings a sac with it. The sac allows fluid to surround the testicle. This sac usually closes before birth, and the fluid is absorbed in the body.
When the sac closes, but fluid stays in the scrotum, the hydrocele is called non-communicating or closed. This type of hydrocele is often found in newborns. In most cases, the fluid is absorbed by your son’s body and goes away in time. It may take up to a year for this to happen.
When the sac doesn’t close, the hydrocele is called communicating or open. This means that the fluid around the testicle can flow back up into the abdomen. You might notice that the hydrocele looks smaller when your son’s doctor presses on his scrotum. The pressure causes the fluid to flow back into the abdomen.
Are hydroceles dangerous?
Hydroceles aren’t harmful to the testicles in any way and they don’t cause your son any pain.
Sometimes, if the sac remains open, a loop of intestine can push through the opening. This makes the scrotum look even larger. If your son’s scrotum suddenly appears very large and hard and he won’t stop crying, call your doctor right away; your son may need immediate attention.