An inguinal hernia refers to a swelling of the groin caused by the abdominal content pushing through a defect in the abdominal wall. In boys this swelling may extend down into the scrotum.
This is more common in boys and premature babies but can also occur in girls. Classically parents describe a swelling in the groin that appears and disappears by itself. It is often more prominent when the child cries, coughs or strains. Sometimes hernias can get stuck and risk cutting of the blood supply to the intestines. If this occurs the hernia will become painful and may become discoloured, this is called "strangulation" and is a surgical emergency.
Inguinal hernias will not heal by themselves and always require surgery irrespective of your child's age. This is to prevent complications such as strangulation. During the surgery the abdominal content/intestines are reduced back into the abdomen and the hernia defect is closed. This may be done laparoscopically (key-hole) or with open surgery.