A hernia is a condition in which part of the intestine bulges through a weak area in muscles in the abdomen. An inguinal hernia occurs in the groin (the area between the abdomen and thigh). It is called "inguinal" because the intestines push through a weak spot in the inguinal canal, which is a triangle-shaped opening between layers of abdominal muscle near the groin. Obesity, pregnancy, heavy lifting, and straining to pass stool can cause the intestine to push against the inguinal canal.
Symptoms of inguinal hernia may include a lump in the groin near the thigh; pain in the groin; and, in severe cases, partial or complete blockage of the intestine. The doctor diagnoses hernia by doing a physical exam and by taking x rays and blood tests to check for blockage in the intestine.
The main treatment for inguinal hernia is surgery to repair the opening in the muscle wall. This surgery is called herniorrhaphy. Sometimes the weak area is reinforced with steel mesh or wire. This operation is called hernioplasty. If the protruding intestine becomes twisted or traps stool, part of the intestine might need to be removed. This surgery is called bowel resection. (Bowel is another word for intestine.)