What is the role of imaging studies in the workup of pediatric hernias?

Updated: Oct 31, 2018
  • Author: Andre Hebra, MD; Chief Editor: Carmen Cuffari, MD  more...
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Imaging studies are generally not indicated to assess for inguinal hernia. However, ultrasonography can be helpful in the assessment of selected patients. [3]

  • Ultrasonography: Some advocate the use of ultrasonography to differentiate between a hydrocele and an inguinal hernia. Ultrasonography is capable of finding a fluid-filled sac in the scrotum, which would be compatible with a diagnosis of hydrocele. However, if the patient has an incarcerated inguinal hernia, ultrasonography may not be sensitive enough to differentiate between the two conditions. Thus, this study is rarely helpful in the treatment of a pediatric patient with a suspected inguinal hernia. When presentation and examination suggest a diagnosis other than hernia or hydrocele, appropriate imaging, including ultrasonography, may be necessary. An enlarged inguinal lymph node can mimic an incarcerated inguinal hernia, and surgical exploration may occasionally be necessary to confirm the diagnosis.

  • Peritoneography: Injection of contrast in the peritoneal cavity has been used to determine the presence of a patent processus vaginalis. Although this test is very sensitive, its use is limited. Because of possible complications, including bowel perforation and sepsis, injection of contrast is rarely performed today.

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