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Types of Hernias in Children

Children are commonly born with two different types of congenital hernias that you may notice:

  • Inguinal hernia
  • Umbilical hernia

What is an Inguinal Hernia?

A congenital inguinal hernia represents a continued connection between the lining of the child’s belly and the lining that exists around the testicle that normally seals before birth. This connection can also close after birth up until one year of age in many boys.

An inguinal hernia is most often seen in male babies shortly after birth and is noticed as a small bulge in the groin or the scrotal area. This bulge is easily felt by you and your pediatrician and may or may not cause your child any discomfort.

Mother holding a baby


Parents and pediatricians often discover a hernia in newborns when they feel or even see a small lump in the groin. Some hernias may not be noticeable for weeks or several months after birth. You may notice this bulge when your baby is crying. While crying is not a cause of a hernia, the pressure caused by crying may make a hernia more noticeable during diaper changes, bathing, etc. Sometimes called a “communicating hydrocele,” these are most often noticed to increase and decrease in size, particularly after sleep and when your child is up during the day.

Signs of an inguinal hernia include:

  • A bulge or swelling in the groin or scrotum.
  • If a loop of intestine becomes trapped in this area, your baby may experience discomfort, become fussy and you may also notice redness about the area around the bulge. This is a surgical emergency that should be brought to the attention of your pediatrician or pediatric surgeon and is called an incarcerated hernia.


An inguinal hernia will not go away on its own after one year of age and will likely require a standard surgical procedure to repair it.


Inguinal hernia surgery is a common and fairly straightforward, same-day procedure typically performed in Chesapeake Urology for Children's’ ambulatory surgery center.

A pediatric anesthesiologist will place your child under general anesthesia. Your pediatric urologist will then make a small incision in the area of the hernia and repair the continued connection that exists between the abdomen and the scrotum. Your child will then be moved to recovery where he or she will be monitored and assessed by the pediatric team and the pediatric urologist before being discharged home.