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Friday, 19 Oct 2018


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What is a hydrocele?

A hydrocele is a painless buildup of fluid around one or both testicles that causes the scrotum to swell. This swelling may be unsightly and uncomfortable, but it usually is neither painful nor dangerous. Although hydroceles are common in newborns, they can also occur at any age in later life.

What causes a hydrocele?

The cause of most hydroceles is unknown.

Hydroceles in newborns may mean there is an opening between the abdomen and the scrotum. Normally such openings close before birth or shortly thereafter.

Hydroceles that appear later in life may be caused by an injury or surgery to the scrotum or groin area. Or they can be caused by inflammation or infection of the epididymis or testicles. In rare cases, hydroceles may occur with cancer of the testicle.

What are the symptoms?

Often a hydrocele does not cause symptoms. Enlargement of the scrotum is noticed. Symptoms, when present, can include pain, swelling, or redness of the scrotum or a feeling of pressure at the base of the penis.

How is a hydrocele diagnosed?

A hydrocele is usually diagnosed by an examination of the scrotum, which may appear enlarged. As part of the examination, your doctor will shine a light behind each testicle (called transillumination). Hydroceles are filled with fluid, so light will shine through. Light will not pass through solid masses that may be caused by other problems, such as cancer of the testicle. An ultrasound may be used to confirm the diagnosis.

How is it treated?

Hydroceles are not usually dangerous and are treated only when they cause pain or disfigurement. Treatment is not usually needed if a hydrocele remains unchanged in size or gets smaller as the body reabsorbs the fluid over time.

Fluid can also be removed from a hydrocele with a needle (aspiration). But hydroceles that are aspirated often return and are at increased risk of infection. Thus, aspiration is recommended only for men who are not physically able to have surgery. If the hydrocele gets larger or causes discomfort, surgery to remove the hydrocele (hydrocelectomy) may be needed and is usually done as an outpatient in an ambulatory surgery setting.