Inguinal Hernias: Diagnosis and Management

Am Fam Physician. 2020 Oct 15;102(8):487-492.


Groin hernias are caused by a defect of the abdominal wall in the groin area and comprise inguinal and femoral hernias. Inguinal hernias are more common in men. Although groin hernias are easily diagnosed on physical examination in men, ultrasonography is often needed in women. Ultrasonography is also helpful when a recurrent hernia, surgical complication after repair, or other cause of groin pain (e.g., groin mass, hydrocele) is suspected. Magnetic resonance imaging has higher sensitivity and specificity than ultrasonography and is useful for diagnosing occult hernias if clinical suspicion is high despite negative ultrasound findings. Herniography, which involves injecting contrast media into the hernial sac, may be used in selected patients. Becoming familiar with the common types of surgical interventions can help family physicians facilitate postoperative care and assess for complications, including recurrence. Laparoscopic repair is associated with shorter recovery time, earlier resumption of activities of daily living, less pain, and lower recurrence rates than open repair. Watchful waiting is a reasonable and safe option in men with asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic inguinal hernias. Watchful waiting is not recommended in patients with symptomatic hernias or in nonpregnant women.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Hernia, Inguinal / diagnosis*
  • Hernia, Inguinal / physiopathology
  • Hernia, Inguinal / therapy*
  • Herniorrhaphy*
  • Humans
  • Laparoscopy
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Physical Examination
  • Sex Factors
  • Ultrasonography
  • Watchful Waiting*