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Inguinal hernia and side pain? Inguinal hernia and side pain?

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Unread 10-12-2009, 06:59 PM
Inguinal hernia and side pain?

My gynecologist referred me to a general surgeon for a diagnosis on ongoing left-sided pain. Prior to sending me, he went and talked to the general surgeon in person and went through my history, what was going on, and even showed him pictures that were taken during my laparoscopy last December. The general surgeon said the pictures indicated it was a hernia, and I was subsequently sent to his office later in the week.

Here's the problem, he diagnosed me with an inguinal hernia; however, the pictures that he saw were not taken in the groin area and I actually have no pain down in the groin area. My pain is a good 5-6 inches above that. It sort of starts about an inch down from my belly button and goes up to just below the ribs. Everything I've come across seems to indicate when you have an inguinal hernia, it's your thigh or groin area that has the pain. Not me! And the general surgeon cannot seem to explain it, nor does he want to because all he cares about is getting to the inguinal hernia. He just says, "There's nothing there." He basically gave me no guarantee that I won't come out of hernia surgery without that same pain. I really don't want to have surgery unless he can fix where I am having pain. Fixing something that isn't currently causing me pain does me no good.

What I'd like to know is if anyone else with an inguinal hernia has not felt it in the groin/thigh, but instead felt it in the flank/back/ovary/belly button/ribs. I won't dispute that there is an inguinal hernia, but it seems like something else might be going on worse higher up.

I'd love to hear from someone who's experienced this. Thanks.
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Unread 10-14-2009, 11:34 AM
Re: Inguinal hernia and side pain?

Hi Mich,

First, I'm a bit confused. You said that the general surgeon diagnosed the inguinal hernia from the pictures, but that the pictures were not taken in the groin area. If you agree to the surgery, where will the surgeon be cutting to look for the hernia and repair it? Is it possible that it is a hernia in the area you describe, and just improperly named by your surgeon? I know it is possible to get a hernia higher up like that, but I can't recall the proper term.

With that said, I will tell you that I had an inguinal hernia repaired about 4 years ago. It was never properly diagnosed until the general surgeon was well into the "exploratory" surgery. I had pain and a lump, which nobody could recognize as a hernia even after seeing several medical professionals and having an MRI. The best diagnosis I got was a fluid-filled cyst. The surgeon offered the exploratory surgery to get a better look at it, and if it was a cyst he could remove it. He did mention the remote possibility of a hernia, but told me he was over 95% sure that's not what he would find.

I tell you this because the surgeon was actually a bit surprised to find the hernia, and like I said, didn't recognize it until he had gotten a ways in to the surgery. In my case, he started cutting higher than where the hernia was because he was going by the landmark of the lump. The lump turned out to be some fatty tissue, and when he followed it "back to the source", he had to extend the incision to where he found the defect in the abdominal wall where the tissue was poking through (the hernia site). Now mine wasn't as far away as what you describe, but it was still misleading.

The other thought I have is that maybe you are experiencing referred pain. There are some nerves that run through that area, and maybe something with the hernia is irritating a nerve that causes the pain in a slightly different area. I had some nerve problems after my hernia repair, and the pain could sometimes be felt anywhere from as low as the inner thigh to just above the groin area/lower abdomen. I'm guessing that this is less likely the case for you, but just something I thought I'd mention as a possibility.

Best of luck to you in finding the cause of your pain, and more importantly resolving it. I know how frustrating it can be sometimes.

Take care,
Unread 10-14-2009, 12:42 PM
Re: Inguinal hernia and side pain?

Hi Anita,

Thanks so much for sharing your experience.

Let me see if I can clarify. I had a laparoscopy last December to detach my left ovary from my colon. In the process of restoring the ovary back to it's proper place, my gynecologist saw an area behind the ovarian fossa that was questionable for a hernia. It's not a usual location, I guess. He takes pictures of the area for his records. Forward 10 months later, I've had this left-sided pain going on 9 months, gradually worsening over time. I've been to the GI doctor, been to the Urologist, they've run their tests and examined me -- nothing. So my doctor goes back to his original thought that this "thing" in the ovarian fossa might be an occult hernia. He decides to send me for the opinion of a General Surgeon who specializes in hernias. They have a conversation and the General Surgeon is shown the pictures, and my gynecologist calls me and says the General Surgeon says it's a hernia and he can help me. Now I'm thinking we're talking about the area where I have pain and the ovarian fossa where the pictures were taken. I get to the General Surgeon's office, he starts examining the groin area and tells me I have an inguinal hernia. I'm going, wait a minute, that's not where the pain is and I try to emphasize the pictures were in the ovarian fossa, which to my mind isn't near where he's found the lump. He feels where I say the pain is and tells me nothing is there. Well, no, wouldn't that be why my doctor told him he thought it might be an occult hernia, because there is no lump that can be felt, it's deeper in. As for referred pain, he did bring that up, but he said it wasn't normally where they see referred pain.

To answer your question, the general surgeon is focused on the lump in the groin area. He didn't seem to care, nor did he offer to check, the area up above that I'm complaining about during surgery.

I just feel like no one is on the same page. I don't know if I have an inguinal hernia in the groin or an occult hernia in the ovarian fossa at this point. So frustrating!

Thanks for your help. I'm glad your hernia was found and I hope you feel much better now.

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