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Inguinal Hernia

Admission Information and Discharge Instructions

What is an inguinal hernia?

A hernia is a small opening in the abdominal wall through which abdominal contents, such as the intestine, can slip through. This sometimes looks like a bubble under your child's skin. An inguinal hernia is more common in boys than girls. It is also more common in premature infants. If your child has an inguinal hernia, you may notice swelling in the inguinal (groin) area.

When your baby boy is growing in the uterus, the testicles descend down a tunnel through the abdominal wall and into the scrotum. Sometimes this opening fails to close and a small opening remains into which the intestines can slide.

Surgery is needed to close the opening. Without surgery, the abdominal contents can slip through the opening, become stuck, and lose their blood supply.

What happens during the surgery?

Surgery to repair an inguinal hernia takes about 1 to 1 and 1/2 hours. Your child will be given general anesthesia and will be asleep for the procedure. The surgeon makes a cut in the groin area and closes the opening in the abdominal wall. Recovery from anesthesia takes 2 to 3 hours. Your child will be able to go home when he is fully awake, able to drink, and has a normal heartbeat and breathing patterns.

How can I take care of my child?

  1. Care of Incision

    After surgery, your child has a small incision in the groin of the side(s) operated on. This incision was closed under the skin using stitches that dissolve on their own and don't need to be removed. On the skin there are strips of tape or skin glue to help the skin heal smoothly with minimal scarring. These will peel off in 5 to 10 days. Don't pull them off.

    There may be bruising in the groin around the incision and bruising and swelling in the scrotum. This is normal and will go away in 1 to 2 weeks. The incision does not require any special care. You may want to avoid clothing that fits snugly over this area. You can use a small gauze bandage to protect the incision from being irritated by clothes if that is more comfortable.

  2. Pain Control

    Your child may need medicine the first few days after surgery for pain control.

    Your child's pain medicine is ______________________. Give __________ every ______ hours as needed.

  3. Activity

    Children will limit their activity if they are uncomfortable. Your child may resume activity whenever he feels ready. School-age children may miss 3 to 4 days of school. Your child should not ride on straddle toys or bicycles for a week. Your child should also avoid rough play for several days. No swimming for 2 weeks.

  4. Bathing

    Your child may bathe after 48 hours. Baths help the area heal and make the sore area feel better.

  5. Diet

    Your child may eat what he wants. Encourage your child to drink fluids.

  6. Additional Instructions




  7. Follow-up Appointment After Discharge

    Your child needs to be rechecked and has an appointment on ______________ at ________ o'clock with _______________________.

Call your doctor if:

  • Your child has pain that is not controlled by pain medicines.
  • Your child has a fever greater than 101F (38C).
  • Your child has any bleeding from the wound not stopped by 5 minutes of direct pressure.
  • Your child has pus draining from the wound or a large red area around the wound.
  • Your child has not urinated in a 12-hour period.
Written by Randi Price, RN, MSN, CPNP, and reprinted by permission of The Children's Hospital, Denver, CO.
Published by McKesson Provider Technologies.
Last modified: 2006-10-05
Last reviewed: 2006-02-06
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright 2006 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All Rights Reserved.
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