Hernia Problems in Children

Hernias in children are common problems. The pediatric surgeons at Penn State Children's Hospital fix all types of hernias. These operations are most often performed as outpatient surgery. 

Inguinal hernias or groin hernias

Inguinal hernias or “groin hernias” occur in both boys and girls. Usually a bulge seen just above the groin crease. These hernias cause the most problems when something becomes stuck in them. Intestine in boys or an ovary in girls is what gets stuck. It is important to surgically correct inguinal hernias.


Hydroceles are fluid collections around the testicle in boys. They are often present at birth and many resolve without treatment. Hydroceles that do not get better are repaired.

Umbilical hernia

At birth, every infant has an opening at the umbilicus (belly button). This opening naturally closes during the first months of life. If the opening doesn’t close, the umbilicus bulges. This is an umbilical hernia. Most infants with an umbilical hernia do not require an operation because the opening will continue to close for the first years of life. If there is still an opening after age two or three, it is unlikely to close on its own and it should be closed with an operation.

Epigastric hernia

Small holes maybe present in the tough "facia" tissue in between the umbilicus (belly button) and the sternum (bottom of the breastbone). A soft, subtle bump will be seen in this area. It may be painful but often is not.  This is an epigastric hernia. An epigastric hernia will not resolve on its own. An epigastric hernia is more annoying than dangerous. Most people will choose to have them repaired.

Why Choose Penn State Children’s Hospital for Care

Ranked Among the Nation’s Best

Penn State Children's Hospital is proud to be one of the nation's top children's hospitals.

  • U.S. News and World Report has ranked us as one of the best children’s hospitals every year. Learn more about our rankings. We are one of only 84 children's hospitals recognized in any specialty.
  • We are one of eight hospitals in the country, and the only one in Pennsylvania, to be named as a Level 1 Children’s Surgery Center by The American College of Surgeons (ACS) for excellence in pediatric surgical care.

Support Groups

Support groups provide children and their families an opportunity to connect with others in similar situations. Learn more about the support groups offered at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital.

View All Support Groups