As you already know, a hernia is a hole, or ‘defect‘ in the abdominal wall. The abdominal contents pass through the hole in the abdominal wall when you stand up, cough or strain, and this results in a swelling that can be felt under the skin. The swelling is often visible as well.
What does an ultrasound examination do that an experienced examining hand does not do? Nothing. Nothing at all. In fact because most ultrasound examination do not get the patient to stand the bulge may not be seen. Coughing and straining are rarely as effective as simply standing up.
A worse scenario is when the examining doctor or technician gets the patient to cough and strain, sees some movement and wrongly diagnoses this as a ‘hernia’. See below:-
Worse yet – ultrasound can pick up movement of fat in the inguinal canal and wrongly report this as a hernia. This is a common scenario in patients with groin pain and no swelling to see or feel. Think very hard before agreeing to an operation if there is no swelling.