What is Femoral hernia?
A hernia is caused by the protrusion of a viscus (in the case of groin hernias, an intraabdominal organ) through a weakness in the containing wall. This weakness may be inherent, as in the case of inguinal, femoral and umbilical hernias. On the other hand, the weakness may be caused by surgical incision through the muscles of the abdominal/thoracic wall. Hernias occurring through these are called incisional hernias.
Femoral hernias occur just below the inguinal ligament, when abdominal contents pass through a naturally occurring weakness called the femoral canal. Femoral hernias are a relatively uncommon type, accounting for only 3% of all hernias. While femoral hernias can occur in both males and females, almost all of them develop in women because of the wider bone structure of the female pelvis. Femoral hernias are more common in adults than in children. Those that do occur in children are more likely to be associated with a connective tissue disorder or with conditions that increase intra-abdominal pressure. Seventy percent of pediatric cases of femoral hernias occur in infants under the age of one.
A reducible femoral hernia occurs when a femoral hernia can be pushed back into the abdomen, either spontaneously or with manipulation, but most likely, spontaneously. This is the most common type of femoral hernia and is usually painless.
An irreducible femoral hernia occurs when a femoral hernia becomes stuck in the femoral canal. This can cause pain and a feeling of illness.
An obstructed femoral hernia occurs when a part of the intestine becomes intertwined with the hernia, causing an intestinal obstruction. The obstruction may grow and the hernia can become increasingly painful. Vomiting may also result.
A strangulated femoral hernia occurs when a femoral hernia blocks blood supply to part of the bowel - the loop of bowel loses its blood supply. Strangulation can happen in all hernias, but is more common in femoral and inguinal hernias due to their narrow "necks". Nausea, vomiting, and severe abdominal pain may occur with a strangulated hernia. This is a medical emergency. A strangulated intestine can result in necrosis (tissue death) followed by gangrene (tissue decay). This is a life-threatening condition requiring immediate surgery.
A femoral hernia may be either reducible or irreducible, and each type can also present as either (or both) obstructed or strangulated.
The term incarcerated femoral hernia is sometimes used, but may have different meanings to different authors and physicians. For example: "Sometimes the hernia can get stuck in the canal and is called an irreducible or incarcerated femoral hernia." "The term 'incarcerated' is sometimes used to describe an [obstructed] hernia that is irreducible but not strangulated. Thus, an irreducible, obstructed hernia can also be called an incarcerated one." "Incarcerated hernia: a hernia that cannot be reduced. May lead to bowel obstruction but is not associated with vascular compromise." However, the term "incarcerated" seems to always imply that the femoral hernia is at least irreducible.