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Femoral Hernias
See the page on Hernias for a general discussion on causes, types, treatments, etc.

This is a rare condition

Definition: Herniation through the naturally existing femoral canal, which is divided into two sections, and through which passes the femoral artery and vein, as well as the saphenous nerve and the femoral nerve. Diagram courtesy of Slatter's Textbook of Small Animal Surgery

Causes

  • Trauma
    • Blunt trauma
      • Most common cause
      • Alvusion of the cranial pubic and inguinal ligaments
  • Surgical dissection 

Signs

  • Swelling on medial thigh (inside of the thigh)

    • May extend into the inguinal (groin) region
    • Reducible or not
  • Pain on palpation (feeling/manipulation) of the swollen region if:
    • Inflammation
    • Infection
    • Strangulation
  • Vomiting if:
    • Bowel obstruction/strangulation
    • Toxemia from urine obstruction
    • Pain
  • Specific signs dependent on tissues involved

Diagnosis

  • Palpation (physical examination by a veterinarian)
    • Feeling the enlarged femoral ring following reduction of the hernial contents helps confirm the hernia type
    • If can't be reduced, the pet can be stood on his or her hind legs
      • Femoral hernias are caudal to (behind) the inguinal ligament and ventrolateral to the pelvic brim
      • Inguinal hernias are medial and cranial to the pelvic brim
  • Radiographs (x-rays) can confirm bowel outside the abdominal cavity
  • Ultrasound may rule out other causes of swelling
  • Computed Tomography

Treatment

  • Surgery is the only option
    • Incise over the hernia sac and reduce the contents
    • Remove any devitalized tissue
      • Approach the hernia from the abdomen if organs are traumatized or incarcerated
    • Ligate the hernial sac as high as possible in the femoral canal. 
    • Partial closure of the femoral canal with care not to compress the vital neurovascular structures

Post-operative care

  • Swelling of the associated limb is likely for the first few days
  • A drain may be used if significant inflammation or damage
  • May need to hobble the two back legs together if the repair is complicated or tenuous
  • May need to re-explore the surgery site to ensure the blood and lymph vessels are not obstructed if: 
    • Swelling worsening with time
    • Severely painful
    • Femoral nerve deficits

Prognosis

  • Generally good
  • Recurrence is unlikely
  • Your pet can generally return to a normal life

See the page on Hernias for a general discussion on causes, types, treatments, etc.

Please schedule an appointment with our board-certified surgeon, Dr. Jeff Christiansen at the clinic of your choice, to discuss hernias and surgery to improve your pet or patient's length and quality of life.

If you have additional questions, please feel free to e-mail Dr. Christiansen directly.

Some information on this page is based on data from Slatter's Textbook of Small Animal Surgery