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Femoral hernia

 

Definition

A femoral hernia is the sticking out of a part of the intestine through a weakening in the abdominal wall near the thigh.

Alternative Names

Femorocele; Enteromerocele; Crural hernia

Causes

A hernia occurs when abdominal contents, usually part of the small intestine, push through a weak point or tear in the thin muscular wall of the abdomen that holds the abdominal organs in place.

In a femoral hernia, a bulge is usually present in the upper part of the thigh, just below the groin, where the femoral artery and vein pass. Femoral hernias tend to occur more often in women than in men.

Symptoms
Signs and tests

A physical examination reveals the hernia. Tests are usually not necessary.

Support Groups

Expectations (prognosis)

The outcome is usually quite good if the hernia is treated properly. The rate of hernia recurrence after surgical repair is generally less than 3%. See: Hernia repair

Calling your health care provider

Go to the emergency room or call the local emergency number (such as 911) if a hernia cannot be pushed back into the abdomen by gentle pressure, or if nausea or vomiting develop.

Complications

A femoral hernia may become stuck (incarcerated) and strangulated (the loop of bowel loses its blood supply). Nausea, vomiting, and severe abdominal pain may occur with a strangulated hernia. This is a medical emergency. A strangulated intestine can result in tissue death (gangrene), a life-threatening condition requiring immediate surgery.

Treatments

Hernias generally get larger with time, and they usually do not go away on their own. If the patient's health allows, surgery is done to relieve discomfort and to prevent complications such as incarceration and strangulation. Often, a piece of plastic mesh is surgically placed to repair the defect in the abdominal wall.

Urgent surgery is required a hernia that may be trapped or strangulated.

Prevention

Overweight patients may be able to prevent hernias from forming by losing weight.

Chronic cough, constipation, and prostatic hypertrophy may lead to straining with urination or defecation, which can lead to the formation of hernias. These conditions should be discussed with your doctor prior to hernia repair.

References

Prather C. Inflammatory and anatomic diseases of the intestine, peritoneum, mesentery, and omentum. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 145.


Review Date: 10/24/2008
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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