A hernia is a medical condition that is characterized by an internal organ or tissue pushing through surrounding muscle or tissue.
There are several different types of hernias, which are named according to the location of the protrusion, but most hernia types occur in various areas of the abdomen. However, femoral hernias are actually located around the groin or upper thigh.
These hernias are characterized by the internal organ or tissue protruding through the femoral canal. This canal is located in the groin and allows the passage of the femoral artery, other vascular structures, and nerves.
What Causes Them?
Similarly to other types of hernias, the cause of femoral hernias isn’t often definitively known. It is possible that some individuals are born with weak points in their femoral canal, but it is also possible that certain injuries, surgeries, and lifestyles can weaken this canal. Femoral hernias are considered rare when compared to other hernia types and most hernias that appear in this region are actually inguinal hernias.
Of the rare cases of confirmed femoral hernias, more women are likely to experience them than men. This may be largely due to the fact that pregnancy and childbirth can put a strain on this femoral canal. Other risk factors for femoral hernias include excessive coughing, constipation, and obesity. Certain physical activities, such as heavy lifting, can also increase a patients risk of experiencing any type of hernia.
What Are The Symptoms?
Small to moderate femoral hernias often don’t cause the patient to experience any symptoms and they may not even be aware of the fact that they have a hernia. Additionally, many of the patients who are aware of their hernia are only aware of it because there is a visible lump in their groin region. For some patients, this lump is painless but for others, the lump may become painful or cause discomfort because of the location. This lump can often be pushed back in and may only be visible after certain activities. As long as the patient is only experiencing the previously mentioned symptoms, their hernia will likely not require medical intervention. However, some femoral hernias may become strangulated and this will require immediate medical intervention. Strangulated hernias are hernias in which the circulation of blood has been halted to the tissue because the hernia has become stuck. If this happens, the patient may experience nausea, severe stomach pain, or severe groin pain.
How Are They Diagnosed?
If a femoral hernia has become large enough that the patient is aware of its presence, then the physician may be able to confirm the diagnosis by simply performing a physical examination and feeling of the lump. The physician may need to utilize ultrasound imaging if the hernia is smaller. Additionally, if the patient is symptomatic but no hernia is found during the physical examination, the physician may order further imaging to confirm the presence of the hernia and eliminate other possible conditions.