A to Z: Hydrocele
A hydrocele (HI-dro-seel) is a collection of fluid around the testicle within the scrotum.
More to Know
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.
Keep in Mind
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.