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What is Inguinal Herniorrhaphy?

The muscles of the inguinal canal in the lower abdomen of a cat may become weakened to the point where an opening forms. If organ material begins to protrude from this opening, treatment may be needed to address the issue. When organ material is found protruding from muscle, this is referred to as an “inguinal hernia”.This problem is not usually seen in cats.

There are three levels of hernia severity. Reducible hernias can be manually corrected. Irreducible hernias require surgery to repair. Strangulated hernias can be an emergency occurrence needing surgical intervention. The cat will likely experience swelling, which can occur on both sides but is often unilateral. Palpation may reveal the type of hernia present.

Inguinal Herniorrhaphy Procedure in Cats

To confirm that a hernia is present, certain tests may be needed. An exploratory puncture can be made to differentiate hernias from cysts or abscesses. X-rays can be used to identify the organ that is involved. Generally, the bladder, uterus or intestines can become trapped in the inguinal canal. If the intestines have become obstructed, an exploratory laparotomy may be performed. General anesthesia will be needed for many of these tests, and will be used in the herniorrhaphy.

One incision is usually needed even if multiple hernias exist. The hernia sac will be opened and the contents examined. Any adhesions that exist will then be removed. The protruding organ will be returned to its original position. If a section of the intestines has died due to a strangulated hernia, deceased tissue will have to be removed and the intestines reconnected. The opening in the abdominal muscles may need to be enlarged in order for the organ to be repositioned. The sac is then trimmed and sutured shut with a drain put in place to empty the remaining contents. 

Efficacy of Inguinal Herniorrhaphy in Cats

This procedure is generally a permanent, successful way to treat inguinal hernias that results in a normal lifespan for the cat. Most of these surgeries are not performed in an emergency setting. In some instances, medical mesh will be added to the inguinal canal to strengthen it and prevent further hernias from developing. There is often no other way to treat inguinal hernias than with a herniorrhaphy. Death may result if the issue is not addressed.

Inguinal Herniorrhaphy Recovery in Cats

The cat will need to be closely monitored as it comes off of general anesthesia. The cat will be put in an abdominal wrap bandage, as the pressure can be soothing while the animal heals. Several days after the procedure has been completed, the drains will have to be removed. The cat should be prevented from being active for a few weeks after the surgery has been performed. Pain medication will be prescribed to the animal as it heals. A follow-up appointment will be needed one to two weeks after the operation to assess how the cat is healing and to remove any sutures.

Cost of Inguinal Herniorrhaphy in Cats

The cost of an inguinal herniorrhaphy may vary depending on how extensive the diagnostic process was and if the surgery had to be done on an emergency basis or not. Prices may range from as low as $300 all the way up to $1,000. Diagnostic imaging can greatly affect the overall cost. Medication used after the procedure is completed can also result in higher vet bills.

Cat Inguinal Herniorrhaphy Considerations

While this procedure is generally very safe, complications can arise. Issues with the general anesthesia are not unheard of and can lead to life-threatening problems. In some cases, the protruding parts of the organ may become damaged or die altogether. Blood vessels may also be blocked or cut, leading to further issues and potential blood loss. A strangulated hernia presents many more risks than a reducible or irreducible hernia does. There is usually no alternative to having the hernia repaired, as the cat can die without proper intervention.

Inguinal Herniorrhaphy Prevention in Cats

This issue is seen more often in female cats. It often affects the uterus and fetus in pregnant cats. Cats should be prevented from having litters too close together, or should be spayed to prevent pregnancy completely. Animals with genetically deficient inguinal canals should be kept from breeding so that the deformity is not passed on. Feed your cat a species appropriate diet and encourage the animal to play daily to help it stay a proper weight. You will likely bond more with the animal if you institute regular play as well.