What is a hydrocele?
A hydrocele is the pathological accumulation of fluid within a human body cavity. The most common hydrocele in man is the testicular hydrocele. This occurs when fluid accumulates in the spermatic cord (the cord that supports the testicles), between the two layers that cover the testicle and the internal face of the scrotum. This pathology, which can occur in newborns or at other ages, even in adulthood, occurs because either the body produces more fluid than necessary, or the scrotum does not absorb enough. Hydrocele in newborns usually progresses to spontaneous resolution during the first months of life. If it persists, hydrocele in adults requires a small surgical intervention that consists of making a small incision in the scrotum or lower abdomen to remove the excess fluid.
Prognosis of the disease
It is not a serious pathology. In children, simple hydroceles usually disappear without surgery. In adults, on the other hand, surgery is usually necessary, but it is a simple procedure with very good results.
Symptoms of hydrocele
There are not many symptoms and the main symptom is usually a testicular swelling, usually painless. This swelling is oval shaped and feels like a water balloon.
A hydrocele usually occurs on the right side of the testicles, but can occur on one or both sides. It can cause discomfort in adults, which increases with the size of the swelling, due to the weight of the swollen scrotum.
The most common hydrocele in men is the testicular hydrocele.
Medical tests for hydrocele
Your health care provider will do a physical examination. He will evaluate if the scrotum is swollen and if it is painless to the touch. He will also apply pressure to the scrotum and abdomen to check for an inguinal hernia. Finally, it is common to shine a light through the scrotum, as transillumination indicates the presence of clear fluid in the testicular area.
Other tests may include a blood test (to rule out infection) or an ultrasound (to see if it is a hernia, tumor or other cause).
What are the causes of hydrocele?
Hydroceles are common in newborn babies. This is because during the development of a baby in utero, the testicles descend from the abdomen through a duct into the scrotum. When the duct does not close, hydroceles occurs because the fluid drains and becomes trapped in the scrotum, causing it to swell.
In older people it may occur due to an accumulation of normal fluid around the testicular area. It may be due to an overproduction of fluid by the body and the body does not drain it well. Another case may be swelling or injury of the testicle or epididymis.
Can it be prevented?
Hydrocele cannot be prevented in infants. It is important to visit the specialist regularly once it is located.
In adults it can be prevented by avoiding injuries or activities that cause pressure on the scrotum, such as horseback riding or other similar activities.
Treatments for hydrocele
As mentioned above, hydrocele usually disappears on its own in infant boys.
In adults especially, the hydrocele persists and surgical removal may be necessary. This surgery can be performed under general or regional anesthesia, depending on the case. The procedure consists of making an incision in the scrotum or lower abdomen to remove it.
After surgery, a tube may be placed to drain the fluid, in addition to a bulky bandage for a few days. The hydrocele may recur after surgery, which is why it is important to follow up with your specialist.
Which specialist treats it?
In the case of infants, hydrocele should be treated by a specialist in Pediatric Surgery and, in adults, by a specialist in Urology.