What are the symptoms of hydrocele?

A child with a hydrocele will have a bulge in their groin or scrotum. You may or may not see the swelling, but it can be felt. The hydrocele may temporarily change in size when the baby cries or changes position.

What causes hydrocele?

Normally, while a baby boy is developing in the womb, his testicles begin to form in his womb. Then the testicles move into the genital area through a “tunnel” called the inguinal canal. As it passes through the canal, it also pushes the peritoneum to the sides. The peritoneum forms a sac around the testicles inside the scrotum. The upper part of the sac closes before birth. Sometimes when the testicles and peritoneum move together into the scrotum, the fluid remains in the sac. This is called a hydrocele.

There are three types of hydrocele. The first of these is the communicating hydrocele associated with the abdomen, so that the fluid moves into the abdomen and into the scrotum. The second is Buna funicular hydrocele, the type with only fluid around the testis in which the connection with the peritoneum is closed. The third is the presence of a cord cyst in which the connection is closed and a cystic structure is formed on both the abdomen and scrotum sides.

How is hydrocele diagnosed?

Usually, a doctor diagnoses hydrocele with a physical examination. Sometimes the doctor may also order imaging tests such as ultrasound to confirm hydrocele or rule out other conditions such as testicular torsion or inguinal hernia.

How is hydrocele treated?

The treatment for a hydrocele differs depending on the type and location of the hydrocele, the age of the patient, and other things. Hydrocele in babies usually goes away on its own when the child is 1 to 2 years old. If the hydrocele does not go away on its own or is caused by another condition (such as a hernia), surgery may be required.

What can parents do?

If your child has hydrocele, the doctor’s recommendations should be followed about the control and follow-up process. You should monitor for any changes in the hydrocele and go to the doctor immediately if you notice any changes.

Take comfort in knowing that hydrocele rarely affects boys’ ability to have children later in life.

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