Dear Dr. Mike,

I have a 17 month old daughter that was just diagnosed yesterday with a hernia. I’ve noticed it for approximately one year when I am changing her diaper and she is crying, but thought that it was just her muscles. She has had regular physicals and I am wondering if the doctors should have found this before now.

Her regular doctor was out of the office yesterday and another doctor looked at her. I am wondering if her normal doctor would have overlooked it again. Should she have surgery ASAP. I’ve read that I should wait until she is 3 years old and if it hasn’t gone away by then, have surgery.

Thank you so much, Sheri

Hi Sheri,
Hernias are best seen when children cry or scream. So, they are not always easy to see otherwise. In fact, most cases are “diagnosed” by a parent who brings it to the attention of their doctor.
There are few different types of hernias. An umbilical hernia is a bulging of the belly button. An inguinal hernia is a bulging down in the scrotum, and a femoral hernia is a bulging in the area of the diaper thigh crease. Umbilical hernias can wait until 5 years of age, but not inguinal hernias.
A hernia is formed by bowel being forced through a small hole in the muscle wall. If the bowel gets caught in the muscle, then it can become strangulated, and its blood supply cut off, thereby damaging the bowel.
It’s not an emergency to get it fixed, but it can’t be put off either. You need to have your daughter seen by a pediatric surgeon. Once an inguinal hernia is confirmed by the surgeon, then surgery is generally performed withing a few weeks. It is an outpatient (same day) surgery. Sincerely, Mike