Hernias are one of the most common surgical conditions.
Yet it’s the kind of condition many people will live with and worry about whether to seek specialist advice.
If there’s anything you’re unsure about or have questions about, it’s always best to seek specialist medical advice.
The following are frequently asked questions which may be of benefit to you.
WHAT IS A FEMORAL HERNIA?
A femoral hernia is a groin hernia which tends to occur in women. It occurs slightly lower down in the groin than an inguinal hernia which typically occurs in men. It presents as a swelling in the crease where the thigh meets the abdomen right next to the pubic bone. The swelling is usually due to fat poking through the femoral canal and is about an inch in diameter. The swelling may disappear on lying down but more typically does not. Sometimes the swelling may be due to bowel coming through the defect rather than fat and this is potentially dangerous. These hernias are prone to being strangulated where the blood supply to the bowel can be cut off by pressure from the surrounding femoral canal and so femoral hernias tend to be treated with more urgency than other hernias. If these hernias become strangulated they are associated with a significant mortality and so every effort should be made to treat these as a priority.
WHAT IS THE TREATMENT OF A FEMORAL HERNIA?
It is recommended that all these hernias are treated by surgery because of the risk of strangulation. The options include keyhole surgery in which an artificial mesh is placed over the defect from within the abdomen or alternatively an incision is made over the groin swelling directly and the defect closed either with a suture or with a piece of artificial mesh shaped as a small cone.
WHICH IS THE BEST TECHNIQUE?
This depends on the size of the hernia, whether it is a recurrent hernia and how fit you are and so what is good for one patient may not be the best for you.
WHAT ARE THE COMPLICATIONS OF SURGERY?
Providing these hernias do not present as an emergency with strangulation, they are treated very easily and with a low complication rate. Infection is very rare and although there is a risk that the mesh may need to be removed this is highly unlikely. There is a low risk of any hernia recurrence following a surgical repair and so it is important to allow the repair to heal for four to six weeks after surgery by not lifting any heavy weights.
CAN I CHOOSE WHICH REPAIR I HAVE?
You will have the final say as to which repair you have, guided by your specialist. Often a sutured repair is adequate for a new hernia whereas a mesh may be more appropriate for a recurrent hernia. If you are unfit, you may not be suitable for a keyhole repair which requires general anaesthesia but these hernias are also easily treated under local anaesthesia as a day case.
WHAT KIND OF RECOVERY CAN I EXPECT FOLLOWING SURGERY?
Femoral hernias are repaired often with very little pain but it is still important to give the repair a chance to heal over four weeks. Driving can be within a few days providing you feel you can do an emergency stop comfortably. A follow up consultation will be arranged about four weeks after surgery to ensure you are happy with the result after which you can resume a normal lifestyle.