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Point-of Care Ultrasound in Stratifying Clinically Evolving Inguinal and Femoral Hernias

      Abstract

      Background

      Point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) is an optimal imaging modality for the risk stratification of patients presenting to the emergency department (ED) with inguinal and femoral hernias, allowing for better evaluation of clinical presentations and guiding appropriate treatment. The lack of ultrasound classification for inguinal and femoral hernias has led to inconsistent use and often underuse of POCUS in this patient population. Several groin hernia classifications are available, but most are complex and often targeted toward surgical management.

      Objectives

      The objective of this study is to review the use of POCUS in the diagnosis of inguinal and femoral hernias, providing a synopsis of critical ultrasound findings in determining signs of incarceration, strangulation, and small bowel obstruction, and suggesting a simple and educative sonographic classification for inguinal or femoral hernias.

      Discussion

      POCUS can reliably confirm the presence of groin hernias and can uniquely identify specific ultrasound findings predictive of complications, such as aperistaltic nonreducible bowel loops, free fluid in the hernia sac, and lack of color doppler in the entrapped mesentery and bowel walls. POCUS can also aid in determining the presence of small bowel obstruction by detecting dilated loops of bowel >25 mm adjacent and proximal to the hernia site.

      Conclusions

      In the ED, POCUS can confirm the presence of a hernia sac and identify and predict surgical emergencies, such as bowel incarceration or strangulation, which are the most important elements in the management of patients presenting with possible inguinal or femoral hernias.

      Keywords

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