Types of Inguinal Hernias

Naturally, before moving forward with an inguinal hernia repair, it is essential to determine what type of inguinal hernia you have. 

Even an experienced surgeon can have difficulty determining from a physical examination what type of hernia the patient has. In that case, a standing ultrasound with a Valsalva maneuver.

The photo below represents the inguinal anatomy:

The Three Types of Inguinal Hernias

Type 1: Indirect Inguinal Hernia

The first type of inguinal hernia is an indirect inguinal hernia or sometimes called a congenital inguinal hernia. This type of hernia develops because the testicle needs a hole in the abdominal wall to allow the testicle to pop out of the pelvis and then drop down into the scrotum just before a young man is born. After the testicle passes through the hole in the abdominal wall, that natural hole is supposed close. If the hole does not close, then at a later date, the hole can dilate and allow intestines to slide out through the hole and create a bulge under the skin. On physical examination, the bulge follows the spermatic cord, and the bulge starts lateral the epigastric vessels.

Type 2: Direct Inguinal Hernia

The second type of inguinal hernia is the direct inguinal hernia or sometimes called an acquired inguinal hernia. This type of hernia develops from a tear or weakness in the floor of the inguinal canal. The damage can be a result of a sudden accident or chronic overuse. Chronic cough, difficulty with urination because of an enlarged prostate or chronic constipation are also significant risk factors. Smokers have weak connective tissue and are also at increased risk for direct inguinal hernias. The direct inguinal hernia develops in the floor of the inguinal canal medial to the epigastric vessels because this is the weakest part of the abdominal wall. On physical examination, the bulge does not follow the spermatic cord but comes straight out of the medial aspect of the inguinal floor.

Type 3: Femoral Hernia

The third type of inguinal hernia is called a femoral hernia. It occurs from a defect that is deep to the inguinal ligament. On physical examination, the bulge often appears as if it is high on the anterior medial aspect of the thigh. The bulge is usually small and difficult to palpate. A standing ultrasound may help. It is a common hernia in women.

Some patients have more than one type of hernia.

Learn more about Dr. Brown’s approach to hernia repair without mesh. Contact Dr. Brown today.

William Brown, MD
Hernia Specialist

Dr. Brown has been repairing inguinal hernias for over 30 years, taking care of Athletes with Sports Hernia injuries since 1999.  Dr. Brown has been taking care of patients with complications from mesh for so long that his hair is gray. Luckily he still has some hair.

His patients include players from the San Jose Sharks and the San Jose Earthquakes as well as athletes from the NFL, AFL, NBA, and the local college teams. As well as Athletes from 15 foreign countries.

Fremont Office
William H. Brown, M.D.
39470 Paseo Padre Pkwy
Fremont, CA 94538
(510) 793-2404
Fax: (510) 793-1320

Subscribe to Our Newsletter
Sign up for our newsletter and join our growing subscriber base.