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What is a Hydocele?  

A hydrocele is a collection of watery fluid around the testicle. Hydroceles are common in newborn males. The fluid buildup can be on one or both sides of the scrotum. Hydroceles usually go away within the first year of life.

A hydrocele is also called Processus vaginalis; Patent processus vaginalis.

What Causes a Hydrocele?    

During normal development, the testicles descend down a tube from the abdomen into the scrotum. Hydroceles result when this tube fails to close. Fluid drains from the abdomen through the open tube. The fluid accumulates in the scrotum, where it becomes trapped. The trapped fluid causes the scrotum to enlarge.

Hydroceles may also be caused by inflammation or trauma of the testicle or epididymis, or by fluid or blood obstruction within the spermatic cord. Hydroceles caused by trauma or blood obstruction is more common in older men.

How is a Hydrocele Detected?

Hydroceles can be easily detected by shining a flashlight through the enlarged portion of the scrotum. If a hydrocele is present, the scrotum will light up.

Symptoms of a Hydrocele

The most symptom of a hydrocele is a painless, swollen testicle, one or both sides. The swelling will feel like a water-filled balloon.

Can a Hydrocele be Treated?  

Yes. However, most hydroceles go away on without treatment. Treatment is usually needed only when they cause discomfort or embarrassment, or they get so large that they threaten the blood supply.

Treatment options include remove the fluid in the scrotum with a needle and/or surgery. Removal of the fluid with a needle can cause infection and the fluid may return.

Surgery is recommended if the hydrocele is still present after 12 - 18 months of age. Surgery is a minor surgical procedure performed on an outpatient basis using general or spinal anesthesia. An incision may be made in the scrotum or the lower abdomen. Possible complications of surgery include blood clot formation, infection, or injury to the scrotal tissue or structures.

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