Health A-Z

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Your doctor will review your symptoms and medical history. He or she will ask you when you first noticed the lump in your groin, whether it has become larger, and whether it hurts.

Doctors can diagnose most inguinal hernias by examining the area. Your doctor will look for an abnormal protrusion near your groin and will feel the area to check for a mass. Often, the protruding hernia can be pushed back temporarily into the abdomen with careful pressure. Your doctor may ask you to cough or strain, which may make the hernia easier to feel or see.

In some cases, your doctor may need to confirm the diagnosis with an ultrasound or computed tomography (CT) scan. In these procedures, painless sound waves or X-rays can distinguish a hernia from other causes of a mass in the groin area, such as an enlarged lymph node (swollen gland).

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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