Inguinal Hernia

What is an Inguinal Hernia? | What can I expect from surgery? | Time off Work | Tips for the day of | Care of the Incision | Food after Surgery | Bathing Instructions | Activity | Daycare/School

What is an Inguinal Hernia?

When a baby boy is growing in the womb, the testes begin development in the abdomen. As the baby grows, the testes travel down a tunnel to reach the scrotum. In females, this tunnel also exists. Occasionally, this opening does not close, leaving a potential space for a hernia to develop and a piece of bowel or ovary to get trapped.

You or your primary care provider may have noticed a bulge in the inguinal area (just below the crease in the abdomen). Once a hernia is noticed, an operation is generally scheduled as soon as possible.

What Can I Expect from Surgery?

An incision will be made in the inguinal crease and the sac will be closed. A surgeon may recommend checking the other side for a hernia because it is common to have a hernia on the opposite side, especially if the hernia is on your child’s left side.

Occasionally a piece of bowel may get stuck in the hernia sac. This is called an incarcerated hernia. If you are unable to reduce the bulge, by gently rolling your finger over the bulge and towards the middle, you must follow emergency directions, either call 410-328-5730 or go to the nearest emergency department.

The operation is done on an outpatient basis. Your child goes to the hospital on the day of surgery and then goes home a few hours after he/she recovers. Lab work is not routinely necessary and may be needed only if your child has other medical problems.

  • Important Notes:
    • Please keep the office staff up to date with a change in phone number, address or pediatrician. We may need to reach you in an emergency.
    • If your child becomes ill (fever, rash, cold) the week before surgery please contact our office immediately 410-328-5730.

Time off Work

Plan on a total of 3-5 days off work including the surgical day. This will allow for 2 quiet days after the operation.

Tips for the day of Surgery

  • Bring for your child:
    • A variety of favorite toys, music tapes, or books to encourage quiet time
    • A special toy or security blanket that may help to comfort you child
    • Extra pacifiers or teething toys to help soothe your baby
    • A change of clothes and loose clothes to wear home from the hospital.
  • Bring for Yourself:
    • Any activity you enjoy to help pass the time
    • Snacks or money to buy yourself a meal. Please do not eat in front of your child
  • It is best, when possible, to make arrangements for siblings to stay at home on the day of surgery, in order for you to participate fully in your child’s care.

Care of the Incision

There will be an incision in the inguinal skin crease. There are several ways to cover it:

  • Steri-strips (small 1/8” strips of tape) may be applied. If steri-strips were applied, they will fall off on their own.

  • Tegaderm (clear plastic dressing) or a gauze dressing may cover the wound. If it is tegaderm, carefully take it off after 5 days. 

  • If it is a gauze dressing, change it if it becomes wet or soiled and remove it after 3 days. 

Expect bruising and swelling for 3-5 days. No sutures go through the skin layer, so none need to be removed. 

Feeding Your Child After Surgery

Your child may have a regular diet for age, however his/her appetite may not be normal for 24-36 hours. This is normal. If so, give frequent small amounts of clear liquids (juice, soda, sugar water).

Constipation is common after surgery. Anesthesia and pain medicine (Roxicet) can contribute to constipation. Give your child plenty of clear liquids after surgery. Call the office if you child goes longer than 48 hours without a bowel movement.

Bathing Instructions

Keep the diaper area clean and dry. DO NOT rub or pull. There will be some swelling and bruising for at least 3-5 days. Only a sponge bath or shower for 3 days.


  • 0-8 months: Normal activity for age
  • 8 months - 2-1/2 years: Be careful to avoid toddler accidents
  • 2-1/2 years - 12 years: Quiet supervised play for 24-48 hours. No running, contact sports, or vigorous activity for 4 weeks


Your child must be closely supervised to avoid accidents for 14 days. He may return to school 48-72 hours after surgery. No physical education classes for 4 weeks.

Call 410-328-5730 for any questions or if there is:

  • Bleeding or excessive drainage.
  • Fever above 101 F.
  • Vomiting.
  • Not making urine (or decrease in wet diapers).

*If you have any questions about the surgery, please call: the nurse practitioner or surgeon caring for your child: 410-328-5730.