A hydrocele is a fluid-filled sack in the scrotum.
Hydroceles are common in newborn infants.
The male reproductive structures include the penis, the scrotum, the seminal vesicles and the prostate.
During a baby’s development in the womb, the testicles descend from the abdomen through tube into the scrotum. Hydroceles occur when this tube does not close. Fluid drains from the abdomen through the open tube and gets trapped in the scrotum. This causes the scrotum to swell.
Most hydroceles go away a few months after birth. Sometimes, a hydrocele may occur with an inguinal hernia.
Hydroceles may also be caused by:
- Buildup of the normal fluid around the testicle. This may occur because the body makes too much of the fluid or it does not drain well. (This type of hydrocele is more common in older men.)
- Inflammation or injury of the testicle or epididymis
The main symptom is a painless, swollen testicle, which feels like a water balloon. A hydrocele may occur on one or both sides.
You will have a physical exam. The health care provider will find that the scrotum is swollen but not painful to the touch. Often, the testicle cannot be felt because of the fluid around it. The size of the fluid-filled sack can sometimes be increased and decreased by putting pressure on the abdomen or the scrotum.
If the size of the fluid collection changes, it is more likely to be due to an inguinal hernia.
You may need an ultrasound to confirm the diagnosis.
Hydroceles are not harmful most of the time. They are treated only when they cause infection or discomfort.
Hydroceles from an inguinal hernia should be fixed with surgery as soon as possible. Hydroceles that do not go away on their own after a few months may need surgery. A surgical procedure called a hydrocelectomy(removal of sac lining) is often done to correct the problem. Needle drainage does not work well because the fluid will come back.
Simple hydroceles in children often go away without surgery. In adults, hydroceles usually do not go away on their own. If surgery is needed, it is an easy procedure with very good outcomes.
Risks from hydrocele surgery may include:
- Blood clots
- Injury to the scrotum
Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of hydrocele. This important to rule out other causes of a testicle lump.
Pain in the scrotum or testicles is an emergency. If you have pain and your scrotum is enlarged, seek medical help right away to prevent the loss of the testicle.
Processus vaginalis; Patent processus vaginalis