A femoral hernia is similar to an inguinal hernia and occurs in the groin area near the leg crease. It is often painful with an obvious lump.
Who commonly presents with it?
Femoral herniae are far more common in women and increase in incidence with age (typically old, thin women). During pregnancy women put weight on around their hips and upper legs, which stretches the femoral canal. This canal once stretched will allow the passage of fat and at times bowel through it, resulting in a hernia. Commonly the hernia contains a layer of fat, which lies over the bowel, called extraperitoneal fat.
How does it present?
A Femoral hernia usually presents as a painful lump in the skin crease of the leg. It can be difficult to distinguish a femoral hernia from an inguinal hernia in some patients. If irreducible, a femoral hernia will require an immediate/ emergency operation due to possible strangulation of omentum or bowel (incarcerated or strangulated hernia). A patient will notice a very painful hard lump in the groin area in line with the leg skin crease. Like inguinal hernia repetitive coughing or straining, lifting heavy objects can increase the risk of developing a femoral hernia.
What can be done?
A Femoral hernia if presents as a tender irreducible lump 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 in some case a single stitch. 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.
Femoral hernia in the non-urgent setting can be repaired by open surgery under either local or general anaesthesia. Keyhole 'laparoscopic surgery' is also possible for femoral hernia and is usually recommended in this scenario.
In some cases when a patient undergoes a keyhole inguinal hernia repair a co-existing 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.