Femoral hernia

A femoral hernia is a small, sometimes uncomfortable, lump in the upper groin which can require emergency surgery if it becomes blocked.

By Wallace Health I Medically reviewed by Adrian Roberts.
Page last reviewed: October 2018 I Next review due: October 2021

What is a femoral hernia?

A femoral hernia develops when fatty tissue or part of your intestine bulges through a weakness in the muscle of your abdominal wall. The lump can usually be pushed back quite easily.

Femoral hernias are uncommon. One in 20 abdominal hernias is a femoral hernia. Both men and women can develop a femoral hernia but they’re more likely to occur in women, particularly older women. A femoral hernia rarely happens in children.

A femoral hernia is usually the result of straining, perhaps because of:

Occasionally a femoral hernia can be present from birth (congenital) and only become noticeable or cause discomfort as you get older.

If a piece of intestine becomes trapped and the blood supply is cut off, it is said to be incarcerated or strangulated. This is a serious condition needing emergency surgery.

A femoral hernia will almost always be operated on and repaired without delay as there is a high risk of complications.

How to tell if you have a femoral hernia

You may have no femoral hernia symptoms other than a small lump in your upper groin area. This lump may:

  • Cause discomfort
  • Only be noticeable when you cough or strain
  • Disappear when you’re lying down or push the bulge in

If your hernia is strangulated, symptoms include:

  • The lump becoming red or purple and tender
  • Sudden pain in your groin
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting

If you have any of these symptoms, even if there’s no bulge, you may have an incarcerated or strangulated femoral hernia and should seek medical attention immediately.

Talk to your doctor if you’re concerned about symptoms

You can book an appointment with a Spire private GP today.

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Diagnosis and tests for femoral hernia

If you notice a lump in your groin area, see your GP as soon as possible.

Your GP will ask about your symptoms, your medical history and examine your stomach and groin.

To confirm diagnosis of a femoral hernia, or another type of hernia, your GP may refer you to a consultant. Occasionally, your GP or consultant will arrange for further tests, such as an ultrasound, CT or MRI scan.

If you have a femoral hernia, your doctor will refer you to a surgeon for femoral hernia repair.

Common treatments for femoral hernia

Surgical repair is the recommended treatment for all femoral hernias.

Femoral hernia repair involves pushing the fatty tissue or piece of intestine which created the hernia back into your abdomen. During femoral hernia repair, your surgeon may also strengthen the weak spot in your abdominal wall using special mesh.

Femoral hernia repair can be carried out using either open surgery or laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery. Your surgeon will discuss which option would be best for you. Your surgeon will also discuss femoral hernia repair complications with you, including the small possibility that the femoral hernia recurs.

Following surgery, you should be able to return home on the same day and return to work within six weeks.