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Difference Between Direct and Indirect Inguinal Hernia?

A hernia occurs when an organ pushes itself out from weak spots around the surrounding muscle or tissue in the body. Out of the four major types of hernias that you can develop, an inguinal hernia is the most common type that happens mostly in men.

An inguinal hernia is further divided into Direct Inguinal Hernia and Indirect Inguinal Hernia. This classification is based on when and how it was formed. Here, we will discuss these two major types of inguinal hernia in detail.


How do we understand the difference between a direct and indirect inguinal hernia?

A direct and an indirect inguinal hernia is identified by how and when the hernia is formed. An indirect inguinal hernia is the most common type that usually happens in premature births, whereas a direct inguinal hernia happens mostly in adults and increases with their age.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), men are more prone to this type of hernia. Both types of inguinal hernias cause a lump on either side of the pubis. Here are the few major differences between a direct and an indirect inguinal hernia-

  • A direct inguinal hernia shows a bulge from the posterior wall of the inguinal canal, whereas an indirect inguinal hernia passes through the inguinal canal or the groin.
  • In the indirect inguinal canal, it is difficult to feel the defect as it occurs behind the external oblique muscle fibers. The defect can easily be felt in a direct inguinal canal in the abdominal wall.
  • A direct inguinal canal cannot go down to the scrotum, whereas the other can easily go down.
  • An indirect inguinal hernia can develop in infancy when an abdomen area called the inguinal rings fails to close. A direct hernia occurs in adulthood when the abdominal muscles wall becomes weak with the increasing age.

Below, we summarize the difference between direct and indirect inguinal hernia.

Indirect Inguinal Hernia

Direct Inguinal Hernia

It passes thorugh the inguinal canal. It bulges from the posterior wall of inguinal canal.
Descends into the scrotum Doesn’t descend into scrotum area
This defect id not palpable as it lies behind the fibersof external oblique muscles of abdomen. Here, the defect is palpable as it lies in the abdominal wall, right above pubic tubercle.
Commonly see in children and young adults Mostly occurs in old age

Have queries or concern ?

    How to repair an inguinal hernia?

    The best way to get rid of an inguinal hernia is to opt for surgery. If the lump remains small for a long period and does not increase in size, with causes any symptoms, you can be kept as it is. But if it increases with time, you must consult a Hernia Surgeon immediately. If needed, the doctor may give you the referral of a surgeon.

    Both direct and indirect hernias are treated in the same way. The choice is on you whether you want to go for an open inguinal hernia repair or a laparoscopic (minimally invasive) inguinal hernia repair.

    Other causes of an abdominal lump

    An abdominal lump refers to a bulge or swelling that protrudes from an abdomen area. It is soft at the beginning, but it can get hard depending on the cause of the swelling. Along with the abdominal lump, if you also feel feverish and if the lump pains, you must visit the emergency care immediately.

    Whenever you develop a bulge in your abdominal area, it is not always necessary to form a hernia. There are also a few common causes of this lump.

    • Lipoma
    • Hematoma (accumulation of blood clots)
    • Tumor
    • Undescended testicle

    Read More – What is Hernia Operation?

    Exercises you should do when you develop a hernia.

    Exercise is good for health as it keeps you physically fit. It helps in losing weight and strengthening the muscles around the area where you may develop a hernia. However, some types of exercises like heavy uplifting, squats, and so on can strain your abdomen.

    It would be best to avoid these as they may aggravate the hernia. Even the exercises that are done improperly can result in increasing the bulge. If you develop a hernia, consulting a physical therapist or a doctor can help you adequately perform the right exercises.


    It may be difficult for you to differentiate between a direct and an indirect inguinal hernia. Therefore, it’s better to consult a doctor and identify the type of hernia. Hernias are very common in men, and they may also reoccur after the treatment. But you must follow the doctor’s instructions and take all precautions to avoid developing a hernia.

    For more information on direct and indirect inguinal hernia, connect with our team of experts today!

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