Table of Contents
What is Hydrocele
A fluid-filled growth, similar to a cyst, that develops in the SCROTUM. Most hydroceles are congenital (present at birth) and occur as a result of incomplete closure of the channel through which the testicle descends from the abdomen to the scrotum. The defect allows peritoneal fluid to seep from the abdominal cavity into the scrotum. A congenital hydrocele, also called a primary hydrocele, appears as a variable and usually painless enlargement of the scrotum. The size of the enlargement may fluctuate with changes in abdominal pressure, increasing with activities such as bearing down (Valsalva maneuver), coughing, sneezing, or, in infants, vigorous crying. Secondary hydrocele may develop after viral INFECTION (more common in children) or trauma to the scrotum.
Hydrocele Diagnosis, Treatment and Surgery
The preliminary diagnosis of hydrocele is clinical, based on the scrotum’s transluminency. In this simple test the doctor holds a bright, focused penlight against the side of the scrotum. When the cause of scrotal swelling is hydrocele, the light passes uniformly through the tissues of the scrotum. Most other causes of scrotal swelling are not transluminent. An OPERATION to repair a primary hydrocele is the treatment of choice; surgical examination of the swelling subsequently confirms the diagnosis. The operation closes the defect that allows fluid to seep into the scrotum. Complications after surgery are rare though could include anesthetic reaction, unusual bleeding, or infection. Secondary hydrocele generally heals on its own.
See also HERNIA; TESTICLES; VIRUS.