AIM To assess the contribution of high-quality multiplanar reconstructions of the groin from multisection computed tomography (CT) to the accurate diagnosis of inguinal and femoral hernias. MATERIALS AND METHODS Twenty-eight patients who had undergone both a contrast-enhanced CT and a herniorrhaphy were identified from hospital records. Seventeen were excluded, as the images did not include the groin area. The remaining 11 images were re evaluated on a workstation without knowledge of the surgical findings and the hernias were identified and classified using the axial data and coronal and sagittal reconstructions. Anatomical structures and radiological details that hindered or aided this classification were recorded. RESULTS Hernias were identified in nine out of the 11 patients. Of the seven inguinal hernias, six were identified with the correct side recorded in each case. Of the four patients with surgical data that distinguished direct from indirect inguinal hernias, the correct diagnosis was provided in all cases using CT. Of the four patients with a femoral hernia CT was used to correctly classify three. Among the three available planes, the axial was particularly poor for the identification of the inguinal ligament compared with the other planes. In contrast, the coronal views were very useful in the evaluation of femoral hernias. CONCLUSIONS The high-resolution coronal and sagittal images available from multisection CT now permit the accurate diagnosis of groin hernias. Using simple anatomical criteria, direct and indirect inguinal hernias and femoral hernias can be reliably distinguished, abolishing the need for surrogate markers, which was hitherto necessary.