Doctors in New Mexico often have trouble diagnosing inguinal hernias in patients when they do not have a visible bulge. Even when imaging techniques are used on patients with hernia symptoms, inguinal hernias are often misdiagnosed. At the latest annual meeting of the Americas Hernia Society, a hernia specialist explained why doctors cannot always rely on the results of CT and MRI scans.
In her speech, the Beverly Hills Hernia Center doctor referenced a study of inguinal hernia radiology reports that she said had caused her to distrust radiologists. The study of 159 radiology reports found that just 7 percent of occult inguinal hernias were correctly diagnosed when CT scans were used. Thirty-three percent of occult inguinal hernias were correctly diagnosed using MRI. Though the study found that a correct diagnosis was more likely when scans were done on patients with palpable inguinal hernias, the chance of a correct diagnosis was still well below 50 percent.
One of the reasons occult inguinal hernias may be so difficult to diagnose is that health care providers do not all agree on the interpretation of radiology reports. Some surgeons, doctors and radiologists do not view small hernias as real pathologic entities that could be the main cause of a patient’s pain. When small hernias appear on a patient’s radiology report, they may not be reported.
If the cause of a patient’s pain is not identified in a timely manner, the patient could miss out on treatments that might prevent their condition from worsening. A patient who has suffered a worsened condition because of a delay in diagnosis may be able to file a medical malpractice claim.