Hydrocele

Hydrocele

Overview of Hydrocele

Hydrocele is swelling in the scrotum. This occurs when fluids collect in the sheath that surrounds the testicle. It is mainly common in newborn and is gone without treatment by the age of one years old. It is less common in older boys and men, but can occur because of inflammation of injury. This is usually not painful or even harmful. In most cases, no treatment is necessary. If you have any type of scrotal swelling, you will want to call your physician just in case.

Symptoms of Hydrocele

Hydrocele is swelling in one or both of the testicles. This is generally painless. If this happens in adults, they may notice discomfort because of the heaviness of the swollen scrotum. The size of the swollen area may be smaller in the morning and then grow larger as the day goes on.

It is important to see your physician if you experience any type of scrotum swelling, or hydrocele. When you see your physician, you will be able to see if there are any other medical conditions that are occurring.

In babies, the hydrocele will disappear on its own, but if it does not disappear after the first year or enlarges, then you will need to schedule an appointment with our physicians.

In everyone, it is important to see our physicians immediately if you develop a sudden and severe pain. This feeling can be caused by many different conditions.

You may experience blocked blood flow, which is caused by a twisted testicle. A twisted testicle may also be called testicular torsion. This must be treated within hours of the symptoms to save the testicle.

Causes of Hydrocele

The cause of hydrocele typically depends on the age of the male. In babies, a hydrocele typically develops even before birth. This occurs when the testicles descend from the developing abdomen. A sac accompanies each of the testicles, which will allow the fluid the go around the testicles. Typically, these sacs will close off and then the fluid is absorbed.

If the fluid remains in the sac after it closes it is considered noncommunicating hydrocele. The fluid in the sacs are typically absorbed over the first year. If the sac remains open, then it is considered communicating hydrocele. The sac changes size often. Communicating hydroceles may also be associated with inguinal hernia.

Older males may develop a hydrocele after an injury or inflammation within the scrotum. This inflammation is typically caused by infection in the epididymitis or the testicle. An epididymitis is the small, coiled tube that is located at the back of each of the testicles.

Risk Factors of Hydrocele

The most common time for someone to develop a hydrocele is right at birth. Nearly five percent of newborns have a hydrocele. Premature babies are at a higher risk for having a hydrocele

In men, it is most common that a hydrocele is a result from an injury or infection.

Complications of Hydrocele

A hydrocele is not dangerous. It also does not have any effect on fertility. A hydrocele may be associated with other conditions. These other conditions may cause serious complications. A hydrocele may lead to infection or tumors. These may reduce the sperm production or the function. The other complication is called an inguinal hernia. This is a loop of the intestine that is trapped in the abdominal wall. This condition can lead to a life-threatening complication.

Diagnosis of Hydrocele

Diagnosis will begin with a physical examination. The first step is to apply pressure to the abdomen and also the scrotum. This is checking for an inguinal hernia. The physician will also check for tenderness, especially in an enlarged scrotum. The last step is shining a light through the scrotum. This process is called transillumination. Transillumination will show the clear fluid that is surrounding the testicle.

Once the physical examination is done, your physician may send you for further testing. A blood or urine test may be ordered to see if there is an infection. An ultrasound may be ordered to rule out hernias, tumors, or any other swelling.

Treatment of Hydrocele

In younger males, a hydrocele most commonly disappears on its own. For any male, it is important to see your physician immediately to see if there are any other conditions that need to be treated.

If the hydrocele does not disappear then a small outpatient surgery may be required. This surgery is called hydrocelectomy, and is done to remove a hydrocele. Anesthesia may be required. During this surgery, a small incision is made in the scrotum or the lower abdomen and the hydrocele is removed. If a hydrocele is found while having surgery to repair an inguinal hernia, the surgeon may remove the hydrocele too.

After this surgery, a tube may be used to drain the fluid. Follow up appointments are so important during this time because the hydrocele is likely to return.

Prevention of Hydrocele

The best way to prevent a hydrocele is to keep the testicles and scrotum away from injury. A good example of this, is to use an athletic cup during any type of contact sports.

How to Prepare for your Appointment

Once you have scheduled your appointment with us, there are a few things to do. You may want to start a notebook. In this notebook, you will want to list out any symptoms you are experiencing. Write out any questions that you have for us as you think about them. During your appointment, you can also write down any instructions that you have.

Summary of Hydrocele

A hydrocele is swelling that occurs in the scrotum. This happens when the fluid fills in the sheath around the testicle. This is most common in babies under the age of one year old and typically heals itself. In any type of hydrocele, it is important to schedule an appointment with us to ensure there are no other health conditions that are occurring. In grown men, it is typically caused by an infection or injury. Symptoms are typically extreme discomfort and heaviness. Pain increases as inflammation is larger.

Request An Appointment

To request an appointment with Urology, call 251-343-9090. To request an appointment with Radiation Oncology, call 251-414-5665.

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