A femoral hernia is a bulge that occurs in the groin area near the leg crease and is similar to an inguinal hernia. It is often painful with an obvious lump.
Who commonly presents with it?
Femoral hernias are far more common in women and increase in incidence with old age. During pregnancy women put weight on around their hips and upper legs, which stretches the femoral canal and can result in a hernia. Commonly the hernia contains a layer of fat.
How does it present?
A femoral hernia usually presents as a painful lump in the crease of the leg. If irreducible, this will require an emergency operation due to possible strangulation of fat or bowel (incarcerated or strangulated hernia). Similar to an inguinal hernia, repetitive coughing or straining, or lifting heavy objects can increase the risk of developing a femoral hernia.
What can be done?
A tender irreducible femoral hernia is treated as an emergency with surgical repair recommended as soon as possible. The emergency surgery involves a small incision in the skin crease, with repair of the defect with permanent stitches. Rarely a mesh is used for the repair and in some cases if bowel is involved a small piece of bowel has to be removed.
In the non-urgent setting, a femoral hernia can be repaired by open surgery or “Keyhole” laparoscopic surgery, In some cases when a patient undergoes a keyhole inguinal hernia repair, a coexisting femoral hernia is identified and can be repaired at the same time.
Your surgeon will discuss all the options with you and together a decision will be made on which type of hernia repair will suit you best.
How long will your recovery take?
Recovery is very quick, with most patients being discharged the same day. Patients are encouraged to start mobilising immediately after surgery and refrain from lifting heavy objects for at least two weeks and heavy-duty activity for a possible further month. A return to full regular activities is expected within 1 week.
What are the main risks of surgery?
Your surgeon will advise on any specific complications and risks. For all types of surgery there is always a risk of wound infection and a 1-2% risk of recurrence of the hernia.