A hydrocele is a medical condition that occurs when fluid accumulates in the sac surrounding the testicle, known as the tunica vaginalis. This fluid buildup causes swelling in the scrotum, the pouch of skin and muscle that houses the testicles. Hydroceles are relatively common and can affect males of any age, including newborns.
There are two main types of hydroceles:
This type is often seen in infants. It occurs when there is a small opening between the abdomen and the scrotum, allowing fluid to flow into the scrotum. Usually, this opening closes on its own during the first year of life, and the hydrocele resolves without the need for intervention.
This type is more common in older males. It happens when the tunica vaginalis fails to close properly, leading to fluid accumulation. Non-communicating hydroceles are often associated with inflammation or injury within the scrotum.
Symptoms of a hydrocele may include swelling or a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum. In many cases, hydroceles are painless, and the swelling may vary in size. However, if there is sudden or severe pain, it could be a sign of another issue, and medical attention should be sought.
Treatment options for hydroceles depend on the size of the swelling and whether there is any discomfort. Small hydroceles that are not causing symptoms may be monitored without intervention. Large or symptomatic hydroceles require surgical removal of the hydrocele sac (hydrocelectomy).