What is Hydrocele?
In men, the inguinal canal, also known as the groin, contains the spermatic cordon and the blood vessels of the testicles and connects the abdomen with the scrotum. A hydrocele is a common condition in which the scrotum gets swollen and filled with some fluid coming from the abdomen. This condition is commonly seen in newborns, which is harmless.
Hydrocele Signs and Symptoms
- Progressive swelling of one or both testicles, which tends to increase its size as the days go by.
- Discomfort and mild pain in your testicles.
- Heaviness sensation in the affected scrotum.
Hydrocele Common Causes
A hydrocele is caused by the collection of some fluid in the scrotum that comes from the abdomen and causes its swelling. There are different causes for hydrocele depending on the age of the affected person.
In the case of newborns, hydrocele develops as a birth condition which usually disappears after birth and is caused by the maintenance of the communicating sac from the abdomen to the testicle.
On the other hand, when hydrocele affects older males, the underlying cause responds to some injury or inflammation within the scrotum, like some trauma, epididymitis or urinary tract infections.
In case you have any of the signs and symptoms related to hydrocele, your doctor will perform a complete physical exam of your inguinal area checking after signs of tenderness and enlargement of your scrotum. Additionally, your doctor will use a light through your scrotum to check for transillumination, which will be positive (will show clear fluid surrounding your testicle) in case of hydrocele.
After fully finishing your physical exam, your doctor will ask some tests, including:
- Blood and urine tests to discard any probable urinary or epididymal infection.
- Imagining tests, including an inguinal ultrasound to help rule out some testicular conditions like hernia or testicular tumors.
The treatment of hydrocele depends on the age of the affected men. Most cases in newborns don’t require any treatment and will disappear on its own. However, for older males, treatment is required in almost all the cases, due to the possibility of some complications and the relation with some other testicular conditions.
The definitive treatment for hydrocele involves surgery. The surgical procedure that removes a hydrocele is called hydrocelectomy and is typically done as an outpatient procedure. During the procedure, your doctor will make a small incision in the scrotum to remove the hydrocele. For most patients, coming back to their regular activities will be possible in the following 2 weeks after the procedure.
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