If there is a swelling in the groin (inguinal region) that is visible when the baby is crying or making abdominal efforts - YES, it is possible the baby has an inguinal hernia.
Usually, it is not painful when the bowel is able to enter and leave the hernial sac. But, especially in small infants, the sudden appearance of a painful bulge in the groin can be the first presentation of inguinal hernia. This means that the hernia becomes irreducible and the bowel gets stuck in the sac (incarceration). This needs to be managed with urgency.
An inguinal hernia results from the persistence of the processus vaginalis – an opening between peritoneal cavity (abdomen) and the scrotum that allows for the descent of testicles before 37 weeks of gestation. If this “channel” remains open, intestinal loops can protrude inside it, that is called hernia.
Inguinal hernia needs surgery. The operation is done under general anesthesia preferentially at a pediatric surgical clinic. A small incision is made in the groin. The intestinal contents inside the hernia are put back into the abdomen and the hernial sac is ligated. There are no external stitches and the incision will remain with surgical glue and strips for 1 week. Generally, it is a day-clinic procedure. Newborns and premature infants, it is safer to keep them 24 hours after the surgery in the clinic for close monitoring.