A hydrocele is common in newborns and usually disappears without treatment within the first year. Older men can build up hydroceles, sometimes due to inflammation or injury.
Hydroceles are generally painless, but may become large and inconvenient. An ultrasound may be required to diagnose the condition.
Treatment usually involves watchful waiting. In rare circumstances, surgery is required
A hydrocele (HI-droe-seel) is a kind of swelling in the scrotum that occurs when fluid collects in the thin sheath surrounding a testicle. Hydrocele is general in newborns and usually disappears without any treatment by age 1. Older boys and adult men can develop a hydrocele due to injury or inflammation within the scrotum.
A hydrocele usually is not painful or harmful and might not need any treatment. But if you have scrotal swelling, see your doctor to rule out other reasons.
Generally, the only indication of a hydrocele is swelling of one or both testicles without any pain. Adult men with a hydrocele might experience uneasiness from the heaviness of a swollen scrotum. Pain usually increases with the size of the inflammation. Sometimes, the swollen part might be smaller in the morning and larger later in the day.
When to see a doctor
See your doctor if your child or you experience scrotal swelling. It’s vital to rule out other causes of the swelling that might require treatment. For example, a hydrocele might be connected with a weak point in the abdominal wall that allows a loop of intestine to extend into the scrotum. A baby’s hydrocele naturally disappears on its own. But if your baby’s hydrocele does not disappear after a year or if it enlarges, ask your child’s doctor to examine the hydrocele again. Get instant medical treatment if you or your child develops sudden, severe scrotal swelling or pain, especially within several hours of an injury to the scrotum. These signs and symptoms can happen with a number of conditions, including blocked blood flow in a twisted testicle (testicular torsion). Testicular torsion should be treated within hours of the beginning of signs and symptoms to save the testicle.
Towards the end of pregnancy, a boy child’s testicles descend from his abdomen into the scrotum. The scrotum is the sac of skin that holds the testicles when once they descend.
During growth, each testicle has a naturally occurring sac around it that contains fluid. Usually, this sac closes itself and the body absorbs the fluid inside during the baby’s first year.
Hydroceles can also form later in life, mostly in men above 40. This usually occurs if the channel through which the testicles descend had not closed all the way and fluid now enter, or the channel reopens. This can cause fluid to move into the scrotum from the abdomen. Hydroceles can also be caused by injury or inflammation in the scrotum or along the channel. The inflammation may be reason of an infection (epididymitis) or another condition.
A hydrocele can build up before birth. Usually, the testicles descend from the developing baby’s abdominal cavity into the scrotum. A sac accompanies each testicle, allowing fluid to surround the testicles. Normally, each sac closes and the fluid is absorbed. Sometimes, the fluid leftover after the sac closes (noncommunicating hydrocele). The fluid is generally absorbed gradually within the first year of life. But rarely, the sac remains open (communicating hydrocele). The sac can transform size or if the scrotal sac is compressed, fluid can flow back into the abdomen. Communicating hydroceles are often related with an inguinal hernia.
A hydrocele can build up as a result of injury or inflammation within the scrotum. Swelling might be caused by an infection in the testicle or in the small, coiled tube at the back of each testicle (epididymitis). In adult men, there may be a sense of heaviness in the scrotum. In some cases, the inflammation might be worse in the morning than in the evening. It is not usually extremely painful.
Types of hydroceles
The two types of hydroceles are communicating and noncommunicating.
A communicating hydrocele crop up when the sac surrounding your testicle does not close all the way. This allows fluid to flow in and out.
A non-communicating hydrocele occurs when the sac closes, but body doesn’t absorb the fluid. The remaining fluid is naturally absorbed into the body within a year.
Diagnosis of hydroceles
To diagnose a hydrocele, your doctor will perform a physical test. If you have a hydrocele, your scrotum will be swollen, but you would not have any pain. Your doctor won’t be able to sense your testicle well through the fluid-filled sac.
Your doctor may well check for tenderness in the scrotum and shine a light through the scrotum. This is called transillumination. It permits your doctor to determine if there’s fluid in the scrotum. If the fluid is present, the scrotum will allow light transmission and the scrotum will appear to light up with the light passing through. However, if scrotal swelling is because of a solid mass (cancer), then the light will not shine through the scrotum. This test does not provide a definite diagnosis but can be very supportive.
Your doctor may also apply pressure to the abdomen to make sure for another condition called an inguinal hernia; your doctor may also inquire you to cough or bear down to check for this. This can happen when part of the small intestine protrudes through the groin due to a weak point in the abdominal wall.
Most hydroceles are there at birth. At least 5 percent of babe boys have a hydrocele. Babies who are born prematurely have a higher danger of having a hydrocele.
Risk factors for developing a hydrocele afterwards in life include:
A hydrocele typically is not risky and usually doesn’t affect fertility. But a hydrocele might be related with an underlying testicular condition that can cause serious complications, including: