Mrs Anne Kolbe - Paediatric Surgeon
Private Service, Paediatrics
Hernias (Hydrocoele, Umbilical)
An inguinal hernia and hydrocoele are caused by a persisting connection between the scrotum and the abdomen (a similar connection occurs in girls causing an inguinal hernia). The connection is present in all babies in the womb during development, but in most babies has closed over around the time of birth. The connection allows some contents of the abdomen to pass down towards the scrotum causing a bulge in the groin. The bulge is often more noticeable when the baby cries.
The bulge (or hernia) can usually be pushed back into the abdomen by gentle pressure when the baby is settled.
Uncommonly the hernia cannot be pushed back (“reduced”), which can be a serious complication because the tissue trapped in the connection can become swollen and damaged.
An inguinal hernia can be repaired with a simple operation. Your family doctor will have referred you to a children’s surgeon who is experienced in repairing inguinal hernias.
A hydrocoele is a fluid-filled mass that forms in the scrotum. In many cases it will disappear by itself during the first year of life. Persisting hydrocoeles in infants and children may need surgery that is similar to repairing an inguinal hernia in a child.
An umbilical hernia is caused by a persisting hole at the level of the tummy button, where the blood vessels passed between the foetus and the placenta in the womb. The hole allows the contents of the abdomen to push through and form a bulge around the belly button.
In most cases these hernias close by themselves before the age of 3 years but if they are large, are causing problems or are persistent, they may require surgery.
Please click here to find more information on infantile hernias.
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This page was last updated at 8:47AM on April 13, 2021.