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What is a hydrocele?

A hydrocele is a condition where fluid accumulates in the sac around the testis, leading to swelling of the scrotum. It most commonly occurs in babies but can affect men of any age. Causes of hydrocele can vary, including developmental abnormalities in newborns, trauma, infections, or other diseases of the testis and scrotum. In most babies, a hydrocele disappears on its own during the first year of life. In adults, a hydrocele may be a symptom of an underlying health problem and requires a more detailed evaluation.


The diagnosis of hydrocele typically involves a physical examination, during which a doctor can feel the scrotum area to assess the presence of fluid. Sometimes a diagnostic technique called transillumination is used, which involves shining a special light through the scrotum to confirm the presence of fluid. Additional diagnostic methods, such as ultrasound, may be used to rule out other conditions such as tumors or hernias and to examine the structure of the scrotum more closely.


Treatment for hydrocele depends on the cause, the patient’s age, and symptoms. In many cases, especially in babies, hydrocele resolves spontaneously without intervention. If hydrocele persists or develops in adults, medical intervention may be necessary:
Aspiration: Involves removing fluid from the scrotum with a needle. However, there is a risk of the fluid reaccumulating, so this procedure is rarely used as a long-term solution.
Surgery: The surgical procedure, known as hydrocelectomy, involves making incisions in the scrotum or inguinal area to drain the fluid and potentially remove or repair the membrane causing the fluid accumulation. This is often a permanent solution for hydrocele.
After treatment, patients can usually continue with normal activities, with minimal postoperative complications. It is important to monitor any changes or symptoms and regularly consult with a doctor to ensure successful recovery and prevent complications.