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Femoral hernia

Alternative names

Femorocele; Enteromerocele; Crural hernia


A femoral hernia is a protrusion of a loop of the intestine through a weakening in the abdominal wall, located in the groin near the thigh.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Although hernias are commonly thought to be the result of lifting a heavy object, often there is no obvious cause. A hernia occurs when abdominal contents, usually part of the small intestine, protrude through a weak point or tear in the thin muscular wall of the abdomen that holds the abdominal organs in place.

In a femoral hernia, a bulge is usually present in the upper part of the thigh, just below the groin. Femoral hernias tend to occur more often in women than in men.

A femoral hernia may become incarcerated (stuck) and strangulated (the loop of bowel loses its blood supply). Nausea and vomiting and severe abdominal pain may occur with a strangulated hernia. This is a medical emergency!


  • Groin discomfort or groin pain aggravated by bending or lifting
  • Tender lump in the groin or upper thigh

Signs and tests

A physical examination reveals the hernia . Tests are usually not necessary.


Hernias generally get larger with time, and they usually do not resolve on their own. If the patient's health permits surgery, elective surgical repair will be performed to prevent discomfort and to prevent complications such as incarceration and strangulation.

Most hernias can be manually pushed back into the abdominal cavity, but using trusses or corsets to keep them in place cannot prevent complications.

A hernia that cannot be forced back into the abdominal wall by pressure may be trapped or strangulated. Without treatment, a strangulated section of the intestine will die because the blood supply is inadequate. Urgent surgery is required for incarcerated or strangulated hernias.

Often, a piece of plastic mesh is surgically implanted to repair the defect in the abdominal wall.

Expectations (prognosis)

The outcome is usually quite good if the hernia is treated properly. The rate of hernia recurrence after surgical repair is generally less than 3%.


A strangulated intestine can result in gangrene, a life-threatening condition requiring emergency surgery.

Calling your health care provider

Go to the emergency room or call the local emergency number (such as 911) if a hernia cannot be pushed back into the abdomen by gentle pressure, or if nausea or vomiting develop.


Overweight patients may be able to prevent hernias from forming by losing weight .

Chronic cough, constipation , and prostatic hypertrophy that lead to straining with urination and/or defecation are also thought to contribute to the formation of hernias and should be addressed prior to hernia repair.

Update Date: 12/27/2002

Hebe Molmenti, M.D., Ph.D., Private Practice specializing in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Baltimore, MD. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

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Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT