• myofibroblast;
  • inguinal hernia;
  • processus vaginalis;
  • apoptosis;
  • testis

Objective To ascertain the presence of myofibroblasts in sacs associated with inguinal hernia in children, through an ultrastructural evaluation using electron microscopy

Materials and methods Sacs were obtained from 10 boys and 10 girls (of similar age, ≈ 45 months) with inguinal hernia and processed for electron microscopy. Thin sections were examined specifically for the presence of myofibroblasts.

Results The ultrastructural evaluation showed myofibroblasts with classical electron microscopic features within all of the sacs, regardless of the gender of origin.

Conclusion The persistence of smooth muscle hinders the obliteration of the processus vaginalis; myofibroblasts are found in association with smooth muscle and thus such cells within the sac walls seem to originate from the smooth muscle, reflecting the dedifferentiation of smooth muscle. This dedifferentiated state may represent attempted apoptosis, which usually causes the disappearance of the smooth muscle and obliteration of the processus vaginalis after the descent of the testis into the scrotum.