Inguinal canal

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inguinal canal
Front of abdomen, showing surface markings for arteries and inguinal canal. (Inguinal canal is tube at lower left.)
The scrotum. On the left side the cavity of the tunica vaginalis has been opened; on the right side only the layers superficial to the Cremaster have been removed. (Right inguinal canal visible at upper left.)
Latin canalis inguinalis
Gray's subject #258 1239
MeSH Inguinal+Canal

The inguinal canal is a passage in the anterior (toward the front of the body) abdominal wall which in men conveys the spermatic cord and in women the round ligament. The inguinal canal is larger and more prominent in men.


The inguinal canal is situated just above the medial half of the inguinal ligament.


Approximately 1.5 inches.


It is directed downwards, forwards and medially.


superior wall (roof):
internal oblique
transversus abdominis
anterior wall:
aponeurosis of external oblique
aponeurosis of internal oblique
(inguinal canal) posterior wall:
transversalis fascia
conjoint tendon
inferior wall (floor):
inguinal ligament
lacunar ligament

One way to remember these structures is with the mnemonic "MALT", starting at the top and going counterclockwise:

  • M - muscles
  • A - aponeuroses
  • L - ligaments
  • T - transversalis/tendon


  • in males : the spermatic cord and its coverings + the ilio inguinal nerve.
  • in females : the round ligament of the uterus + the ilio inguinal nerve.


During development in men the testes descend from their starting point near the kidneys down the abdomen and through the inguinal canal to reach the scrotum.


Abdominal contents (potentially including intestine) can be abnormally displaced from the abdominal cavity. Where these contents exit through the inguinal canal the condition is known as an indirect inguinal hernia. This condition is far more common in men than in women, owing to the inguinal canal's small size in women. A hernia that exits the abdominal cavity directly through the deep layers of the abdominal wall, thereby bypassing the inguinal canal, is known as a direct inguinal hernia.

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See also

External links

de:Leistenkanal nl:Lieskanaal