Femoral hernia is a form of groin hernia. It is caused by the abnormal protrusion of peritoneal sac (lining of the abdominal contents) through a weakness in the femoral canal, which is located below the inguinal ligament.
Femoral hernias are much less common than inguinal hernias. They occur much more commonly in females than males, but account for only about one-fifth of all groin hernias in females.
Patients may feel groin discomfort or a lump. As these hernias are small, they can be missed on physical examination if not specifically looked for, especially in obese patients.
As opposed to inguinal hernias, femoral hernias are less likely to be reducible, i.e. the protruding contents of the sac are unable to return into the abdominal cavity.
The patient should see a doctor when he or she discovers a lump in the groin and a hernia is suspected. Pain in the groin lump is a danger symptom and urgent medical attention should be sought.
A common complication associated with femoral hernia is bowel obstruction which presents with abdominal pain, distension and vomiting. In such cases, the patient should immediately seek medical attention at the emergency department as an emergency operation may be needed.
The diagnosis of femoral hernias should be considered in patients presenting with groin hernias, particularly in females. Clinical examination may not be reliable in differentiating from inguinal hernias and use of imaging modalities such as ultrasonography or CT scans can be helpful.
All cases suspected of or diagnosed as femoral hernia should be referred to a general surgeon for assessment, as the risks of acute complications are significant.
Open repair or laparoscopic keyhole surgery can be performed to treat the hernia.