Hydrocele (Scrotal Sweling)
A Hydrocoele (Scrotal Swelling) is a swelling in the scrotum that occurs when fluid collects in the thin sheath surrounding a testicle. Hydrocele is common in newborns and usually disappears without treatment by age 1. Older boys and adult men can develop a hydrocele due to inflammation or injury within the scrotum.
Usually, the only indication of a hydrocele is a painless swelling of one or both testicles.
Adult men with a hydrocele might experience discomfort from the heaviness of a swollen scrotum.
When to see a doctor
See your doctor if you or your child experiences scrotal swelling. It’s important to rule out other causes of the swelling that might require treatment like inguinal hernia.
Get immediate medical treatment if you or your child develops sudden, severe scrotal pain or swelling, especially within several hours of an injury to the scrotum. These signs and symptoms can occur with a number of conditions, including blocked blood flow in a twisted testicle (testicular torsion). Testicular torsion must be treated within hours of the beginning of signs and symptoms to save the testicle.
Your doctor will start with a physical exam. It’s likely to include:
• Checking for tenderness in an enlarged scrotum.
• Applying pressure to the abdomen and scrotum to check for inguinal hernia.
• Shining a light through the scrotum (transillumination).
After that, your doctor might recommend:
• Blood and urine tests to help determine if you or your child has an infection, such as epididymitis
• Ultrasound to help rule out hernia, testicular tumor or other causes of scrotal swelling
In baby boys, a hydrocele sometimes disappears on its own. But for males of any age, it’s important for a doctor to evaluate a hydrocele because it can be associated with an underlying testicular condition.
A hydrocele that doesn’t disappear on its own might need to be surgically removed, typically as an outpatient procedure. The surgery to remove a hydrocoele (hydrocelectomy) can be done under general or regional anesthesia. An incision is made in the scrotum or lower abdomen to remove the hydrocoele. If a hydrocoele is found during surgery to repair an inguinal hernia, the surgeon might remove the hydrocoele even if it’s causing no discomfort.
After hydrocelectomy, you might need a tube to drain fluid and a bulky dressing for a few days.
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