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Hydrocele is a condition where fluid collects in the scrotum. This condition is very common in newborn babies. However, men of any age can develop hydrocele.

What is Hydrocele?

Hydrocele is a collection of fluid in the scrotum within the tunica vaginalis or near the spermatic cord.This fluid collection can occur along the canal of Nuck in females. However, hydrocele in females is a very rare condition.

Hydrocele leads to swelling of the scrotum. It is usually painless and may disappear without treatment in newborn babies within a year of birth.

What Do Hydroceles Look Like?

Hydroceles are small fluid-filled sacs within the scrotum. They feel smooth to touch and usually appear in front of the tesitcles. The size of the hydroceles may differ person to person. Many times, adult males avoid going to the doctor and develop very large hydrocels over the years. Hydroceles are usually painless and this is the main reason why many avoid visiting the doctor for treatment. Large hydroceles make it very difficult to walk and cause a lot of discomfort. Sexual activity is also affected due to its large size. Thus, patients visit the doctor for help.

What are the Symptoms of Hydrocele?

A painless swelling on one or both the testicles is the main symptom of hydrocele. When the hydrocele increases in size, adult male patients complain of heaviness near the scrotum.

What Causes Hydrocele?

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In newborn baby boys, hydrocele usually makes an appearance in the womb. This happens when the testicles descend from the fetal abdominal cavity into the scrotum. Along with the testicles, a fluid filled sac descends.The fluid sac, processusvaginalis, closes with time and the fluid gets absorbed. However, if the fluid remains after the sac closes, it leads to a hydrocele. Such a hydrocele is called as noncommunicating hydrocele. Thus, one observes scrotum swelling in some newborn boys. The fluid gets absorbed within the body in a year. Thus, does not require treatment as such.

In adult males or young boys, a hydrocele can develop due to an inflammation or injury to the scrotum sac.It can be due to an infection or tumor of the testicles leading to fluid accumulation. In some people it can be due to fluid retention in the lower half of the body.

Is It Necessary to Seek Medical Advice for Hydrocele?

Hydrocele is a painless condition that resolves on its own in many cases. However, when an adult male or a young boy develops scrotum swelling, it is important to seek doctors advice. Many times, hydrocele occurs due to infection of the testicles, inguinal hernia or testicular cancer. In case of babies, if the swelling does not subside after a year, visit a pediatrician for advice.

Diagnosis of Hydrocele

The doctor will shine a light through the scrotum, causing the light to outline the testicle.This indicates a hydrocelesurrounding the testicle. The doctor may apply pressure to the abdomen or scrotum and find the scrotum enlarges or shrinks in size. This indicates associated inguinal hernia.

If the doctor suspects an infection, he may order a blood or urine tests.If the testicle is not being felt due to the amount of fluid, an ultrasound may be ordered.

How is Hydrocele Treated?

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Hydrocele in infants resolves in a year on its own. If it does not go away or enlarges, the infant may have to undergo a surgery. In adults, hydyrocele that is very large or does not resolve in six months, it is needs treatment.

The treatment for hydrocele in this case includes:


This is surgical removal of the hydrocele under general or spinal anesthesia. The fluid is drained from a small incision in the scrotum or lower abdominal wall.

Needle Aspiration

Removing fluid with a needle and a syringe. However, the sac may get filled with fluid again after a few months. Thus, one may have to undergo the process of aspiration, every few months, if they want to avoid or are not fit for a surgery.

Hydrocele is not a serious condition, but may indicate a serious complication of the scrotum or testicles. Thus, it is advisable to get it checked by a doctor, even if it does not pain. Any pain, reddening or inflammation of the scrotum should be brought to the notice of the doctor immediately. Hernia is usually associated with a hydrocele, thus, never overlook the condition.

Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: April 01, 2015

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