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What is a Hydrocele?
It is a fluid filled sack along the spermatic cord within the scrotum. Hydroceles can occur on one or both sides.
In children fluid drains incorrectly through the open tract from the abdomen into the scrotum where it becomes trapped causing enlargement of the scrotum.
Sometimes, and more commonly in older men, inflammation, infection or trauma to the testicle may result in fluid or blood within the scrotal sac causing an obstruction within the spermatic cord. Occasionally, a hydrocele may be associated with an inguinal hernia or a hydrocele may occur for no obvious reason.
A hydrocele results in a painless, swollen scrotum, on one or both sides, that feels like a water filled balloon.
Diagnosis is confirmed by examination and scrotal ultrasound.
Surgery for Hydrocele
The procedure is performed under a short general anaesthetic.
In children, an incision is made just above the groin. The open communication between the abdominal cavity and scrotum will then be repaired, the fluid is removed from the scrotum, and the incision is closed.
In adults, an incision is made in the scrotum, the fluid is drained and the hydrocele sack either everted or sewn up so that it cannot re-form.
Why the Procedure is Performed
Hydroceles often go away on their own in children, but not in adults. Most hydroceles in infants will go away by the time they are 2 years old.
Your surgeon may recommend hydrocele repair if:
The size of hydroceles increase and decrease over time.
Risks of the Operation
There is a slight risk of breathing problems and medication reactions in anaesthesia. Possible complications of surgery include haematoma (blood clot formation), infection or injury to the scrotal tissue or structures. There is a small risk of recurrence.
After the Procedure
Patients usually recover quickly. Most can go home a few hours after surgery. Children should take it easy and rest more than usual the first few days after surgery. Normal activity can usually start again in about 4 to 7 days.
The success rate for hydrocele repair is very high. The long-term prognosis is excellent, but another hydrocele may form over time, or if there was also a hernia present.