A hydrocele is a liquid effusion in the scrotum. It sometimes occurs in adults without any apparent cause, and it may be secondary to trauma, disease or (rarely) cancer. A hydrocele can also affect the infant, during the period where the testicles descend from the abdominal cavity into the scrotum at birth. Normally, this descent is followed by the closure of the small channel through which the testicles are descended. However, if the channel remains open, it may result in a liquid accumulation in the testis, and therefore a swelling: a hydrocele.
The symptoms of hydrocele are:
- unilateral or bilateral increase in the size of the scrotum;
- the absence of pain generally, but the existence of a nuisance.
The diagnosis of hydrocele is made following physical examinations. After performing a palpation, the doctor will put a light up to the other side of the scrotum to see if it is translucent, letting light pass through. An ultrasound can confirm the diagnosis and verify the absence of testicular damage.
There are several treatments for hydrocele. Surgical treatment is used in children. This technique includes cutting open the scrotum, drawing the liquid and closing the space between the scrotal cavity and the abdominal cavity. In adults, the treatment of the cause of reactive hydrocele may make it disappear. Surgery is necessary if it is persistent without any cause to be found.