Hernia Problems in Children

Hernia Problems in Children

Learn about common surgeries and conditions treated at Penn State Children’s Hospital. Our Pediatric Surgery team is experienced in many areas.

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Inguinal hernia, Hydrocele, Umbilical hernia, Epigastric hernia

Hernias in children are common problems. The pediatric surgeons at Penn State Children's Hospital fix all types of hernias. These operations are most often performed as outpatient surgery. 

Inguinal hernias or groin hernias

Inguinal hernias or “groin hernias” occur in both boys and girls. Usually a bulge seen just above the groin crease. These hernias cause the most problems when something becomes stuck in them. Intestine in boys or an ovary in girls is what gets stuck. It is important to surgically correct inguinal hernias.


Hydroceles are fluid collections around the testicle in boys. They are often present at birth and many resolve without treatment. Hydroceles that do not get better are repaired.

Umbilical hernia

At birth, every infant has an opening at the umbilicus (belly button). This opening naturally closes during the first months of life. If the opening doesn’t close, the umbilicus bulges. This is an umbilical hernia. Most infants with an umbilical hernia do not require an operation because the opening will continue to close for the first years of life. If there is still an opening after age two or three, it is unlikely to close on its own and it should be closed with an operation.

Epigastric hernia

Small holes maybe present in the tough "facia" tissue in between the umbilicus (belly button) and the sternum (bottom of the breastbone). A soft, subtle bump will be seen in this area. It may be painful but often is not.  This is an epigastric hernia. An epigastric hernia will not resolve on its own. An epigastric hernia is more annoying than dangerous. Most people will choose to have them repaired.

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