An inguinal hernia is an abnormal bulge, or protrusion, that can be seen and felt in the groin area (the area between the abdomen and the thigh). The protrusion occurs through the inguinal canal. There are two types of inguinal hernias. They are classified as direct and indirect depending on their relationship to the inferior epigastric vessels. When the hernia occurs medial to the inferior epigastric vessels and the contents herniated through the superficial inguinal ring, it is referred to as a direct hernia. An indirect hernia occurs when the abdominal contents protrude through the deep inguinal ring, lateral to the inferior epigastric vessels.
Inguinal hernias in children result from a weakness in the abdominal wall that is present at birth. The bulge in the groin might only be noticed when the child is crying, coughing, or straining during a bowel movement, or it might appear to be larger during these times.