Inguinal Hernias & Hydroceles

An inguinal (related to the groin) hernia occurs when a part of the intestine protrudes through a weakened spot in the abdominal muscles and into the groin area, while a hydrocele is a fluid-filled sac in the scrotum (the pouch that holds the testes.) Inguinal hernias are more common in boys than girls and tend to occur more often in premature babies.

What causes inguinal hernias and hydroceles?

Inguinal hernias and hydroceles are caused by a malformation of the inguinal canal. Before birth, the inguinal canal connects the abdominal cavity (belly) and a child’s normally descending sexual organs. This channel usually closes before or soon after birth, but if the connection remains open, fluid from the abdominal cavity can be trapped in the scrotum in boys and form a hydrocele.

If the connection is large enough, the intestine may be pushed into this space when a child strains causing a protrusion known as a hernia, which may look like a bulge or a lump in your child’s groin area.

How are inguinal hernias and hydroceles treated?

The majority of hydroceles go away by themselves by the time your child is 12 to 18 months old.

However, if your child’s hydrocele is very large, changes in size, or persists, or if the hernia can be seen or felt or causes discomfort in your child, your Nemours pediatric urologist may recommend surgical repair. When the hernia bulges out, it is usually soft and not painful to the touch.

If you notice that your child’s hernia is firm, red or tender, you need to call your doctor right away. With hernias, the intestine can become trapped in the hernial sac and cause serious problems, including injury to the intestines and the blood vessels that supply blood to the testes.

Most inguinal hernia and hydrocele repairs are done on an outpatient basis in the operating room and take about one hour. Your Nemours urologist will explain the surgical procedure to you and answer any questions you may have. Recovery time is generally short and your child may be able to take part in usual play activities in a day or so.

A to Z: Neurogenic Bladder

A to Z: Neurogenic Bladder

The term neurogenic bladder refers to a bladder that doesn't function properly because of nervous system damage.

More to Know

Functions like filling, storing, and emptying the bladder are regulated by nerves. When these nerves become damaged, nerve signals are disrupted and loss of bladder control results.

Neurogenic bladder is often caused by an injury, tumor, or defect of the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord). Diseases like cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, and neural tube defects like spina bifida also can be responsible. Sometimes nerve damage due to heavy, long-term alcohol use, diabetes, or a slipped disk will cause the problem.

Symptoms of neurogenic bladder may include frequent urination (peeing), inability to fully empty the bladder, incontinence (the accidental release of urine), and urinary retention (inability to urinate). People with the disorder are also more likely to develop urinary tract infections (UTIs).

Treatment for neurogenic bladder might include medication, strengthening exercises, or the use of a urinary catheter. Some people will need surgery to help ease symptoms.

Keep in Mind

Neurogenic bladder is not curable, but it is manageable. It's important to see a doctor as soon as the condition develops, however. Left untreated it can lead to kidney failure, which can be life threatening.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.

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Date reviewed: September 26, 2016