What Is Scrotal Hernia?

Protrusion of a part of viscera or its outer covering membranes from any weak point in the body musculature is called hernia.

As the name suggests, scrotal hernia is herniation or protrusion of a part of abdominal viscera (or only the omentum) from a weak point in abdominal muscles into the scrotal sac.

This weak point is usually along the course of the inguinal ligament. Omentum is a delicate membrane covering the visceral organs in the abdomen.

Why Does It Occur?

A scrotal hernia occurs when there is some weakness in the abdominal musculature coupled with increased pressure in the abdomen.

This weak point may be a developmental anomaly or develop later in life due to aging or some muscular degeneration.

Increased pressure may be due to:

  • Pregnancy
  • Chronic cough, as in asthma, bronchitis, smokers etc.
  • Obesity
  • Heavy weight lifting
  • Conditions leading to fluid in the abdominal cavity
  • Chronic constipation, followed by straining during stools
  • Certain jobs that require you to stand for prolonged periods
  • Prematurely born babies may have a weak spot in the abdominal musculature, through which viscera may protrude.

Symptoms

A scrotal hernia may be symptomless, especially if small in size. In such cases, a doctor may notice it on routine examination.

Scrotal hernias may give the following symptoms:

  • A swelling on either side of the groin
  • A heavy sensation, particularly after standing for long hours.
  • Pain or discomfort while lifting heavy loads or coughing.

Most of these hernia get reduced while lying down. Patient is often able to reduce it with hands.

Strangulated Scrotal Hernia

This hernia or protrusion of viscera may sometimes get trapped and is not able to reduce back. If the blood supply of the protruded viscera gets blocked, the hernia is called strangulated.

This is an emergent condition. The patient feels intense pain in the bulge, which turns bluish in color. He may have a feeling of nausea and fever may be there.

It is suggested to rush to the hospital in such cases.

Management

Most small scrotal hernias, which get reduced easily may be left as such. Patient learns to avoid heavy lifting of objects, long standing hours and all other factors that may contribute to the enlargement of the hernia.

If you have a hernia, do the following to prevent complications:

  • Avoid heavy meals, which may increase the abdominal pressure. Take small frequent meals instead.
  • Constipation is absolutely bad for you. Take adequate dietary fibers to stay away from it. If required, you may take Castor oil or metamucil in milk before bedtime.
  • Avoid lifting of heavy objects.
  • Avoid standing for long hours.
  • Avoid smoking or any other stimulant which may give you cough.

Surgical Repair

Bigger hernias, or hernias which may complicate/strangulate are treated by surgery, called herniorrhaphy.

Treatment is a surgical procedure where the hernia is carefully reduced into the abdominal cavity and the weak spot is repaired.

For this, a synthetic hypoallergenic mesh is taken. Alternatively, a piece of muscle may be taken from the thigh of some other place of the body. This piece is stitched on the weak spot (hernioplasty).