What is a hydrocele?
A hydrocele is a collection of watery fluid around the
testicle. This is a common problem in newborn males and usually goes away within the first
year of life. When the testicle drops into the scrotum (about the eighth month of
pregnancy), a sac (the processus vaginalis) from the abdominal cavity travels along with
the testicle. Fluid can then flow to the scrotum to surround the testicle. This sac
usually closes and the fluid is absorbed. When the sac closes and the fluid remains, this
is called a noncommunicating hydrocele. This means that the scrotal sac
can be compressed and the fluid will not flow back into the abdomen. This type of
hydrocele is often found in newborns and the fluid will usually be absorbed with time. If
the scrotal sac is compressed and the fluid slowly goes back up into the abdomen or if the
hydrocele changes size, this is called a communicating hydrocele. This
type of hydrocele usually appears smaller in the morning when the child wakes up and
larger in the evening after activity. A communicating hydrocele shows that the sac or
processus vaginalis is still open.
the processus vaginalis and tunica vaginalis are obliterated and contain no fluid.
the processus vaginalis is obliterated so no fluid can move between the abdomen and the
scrotum, but the tunica vaginalis contains fluid.
the processus vaginalis is still open, allowing fluid to move between the abdomen and the
tunica vaginalis in the scrotum.
When is surgery recommended for hydroceles?
Surgery is recommended if the hydrocele is still present
after 12 - 18 months of age. Hydroceles that continue to get larger are symptomatic and
should be fixed.