A hydrocele (HI-dro-seel) is a collection of fluid around the testicle within the scrotum.
Before a boy is born, his testicles develop in the abdomen and then travel through a tube into the scrotum. Normally, this tube then closes.
When this tube doesn't close properly, fluid can leak into the scrotum. This results in a hydrocele. If the tube remains open (called a "communicating hydrocele"), fluid from the abdomen can travel up and down the open tube, making the hydrocele change size. If the opening in the tube is large enough, a hernia also can develop (when some of the intestines travel into the scrotum through the tube).
When the tube closes, trapping the fluid in the scrotum, it creates a "non-communicating hydrocele." This type of hydrocele also can be caused by fluid that comes from the tissues around the testicle due to trauma, infections, or other causes.
Hydroceles are common in newborn babies, especially premature babies, but can also happen in older boys and men.
Treatment depends on the type of hydrocele, the patient's age, and whether he has any symptoms (pain or discomfort). A hydrocele in a baby usually goes away by the first birthday. If it doesn't, or if the hydrocele develops after the first year of life or is associated with a hernia, surgery is often needed. This is a simple surgery and results are usually very good.
All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.
|American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.|
|American College of Surgeons The website of the American College of Surgeons provides consumer information about common surgeries such as appendectomy.|
|Hernia Resource Center This site has information about hernias and hernia repair surgery.|
|American Academy of Family Physicians This site, operated by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), provides information on family physicians and health care, a directory of family physicians, and resources on health conditions.|
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|Male Reproductive System The male reproductive system is essential to the perpetuation of life. Understanding it, what it does, and problems that can affect it can help you better understand your son's reproductive health.|
|Ultrasound: Scrotum Doctors order a scrotal ultrasound when they're concerned about symptoms such as scrotal pain or swelling.|
|Hernias A hernia is an opening or weakness in the wall of a muscle, tissue, or membrane that normally holds an organ in place. Learning to prevent hernias isn't hard to do - check out these tips.|
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|Undescended Testicles Shortly before birth, a boy's testicles usually descend through the inguinal canal into the scrotum. When a testicle doesn't make the move, this is called cryptorchidism.|
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