Hydrocele is a condition when water-like fluid gets accumulated in the scrotum making it large and uncomfortable to sit, stand or walk. The fluid can sometimes be in light yellowish colour instead of white or silvery. If there is an infection in the scrotum, the puss formed can get mixed up with the fluids resulting in a condition called pyocele. If the blood gets mixed up with fluids for any reason, the condition is called hematocele.
Hydrocele affects infants more than adults. However, this is commonly seen in adults as well. In many cases of infant hydrocele, the case resolves on its own as the fluids get absorbed by the body and only very few cases will require treatment that may include a minor surgery.
Types of hydrocele
Hydrocele is classified into two types – communicating and non-communicating depending whether the membrane present in the inguinal canal is open or closed. Usually, after the testicles descend from the abdomen, the inguinal canal closes. For some, this doesn’t happen and can result in an opening between the abdomen and the scrotum. This can result in inguinal hernia and/or hydrocele.
Communicating hydrocele – The case when the membrane in the inguinal canal (called the processus vaginalis) fails and there is a flow of fluids between the abdomen and the scrotum. In this case, the size of the scrotum can vary through the day. If the inguinal canal remains open from birth, the case may be termed as congenital hydrocele.
Non-communicating hydrocele – In this case, the fluids are secreted in the scrotum over a period of time. It takes time for the scrotum to grow in size.
Causes of hydrocele
- In baby boys, hydrocele can be congenital when the inguinal canal doesn’t close properly after the testicles descend. In many cases, the fluids that get accumulated in the scrotum gets absorbed by the body and the inguinal canal closes. In some cases, the fluids remain in the scrotum needing treatment.
- In older males, hydrocele can be a result of an injury or infection to the testicles or the epididymitis.
- Sexually transmitted infection can also lead to hydrocele.
When you present yourself to a good sexologist or a male gynecologist, your doctor will start with a few questions followed by:
- Physical examination – The size of the scrotum is observed and your doctor will also see how the size of the scrotum changes under pressure. This can give a clue on whether it is a communicating or non-communicating hydrocele. You may be asked to cough to see how the testicles are responding at that time.
- Ultrasound examination – Your doctor may ask you to go for an ultrasound in case he/she has any further suspicions.
Treatment of hydrocele
Currently there are no medications for hydrocele. In infants, your doctor may advise you to wait for a few months to a year to see if the swollen scrotum becomes normal as the body absorbs the fluids in case of congenital hydrocele. In cases when the fluids are not absorbed back by the body or if the swelling of scrotum increases, surgery might be the only option.
If you are having an infant with swollen testicles, here is what you need to look for to decide if you should see a sexologist or urologist for infants near you:
- If the baby is in pain most of the time
- If the baby doesn’t eat properly or vomits the food consumed
- The swelling doesn’t reduce even for a few months
- If there is an abnormal protrusion in the scrotum or just above it in the groin – this can be the case when the intestines descend into the scrotum leading to inguinal hernia.
Does hydrocele cause infertility?
No. Hydrocele doesn’t cause infertility in any case.
What is the cost of hydrocele surgery in Chennai?
The average cost of hydrocele surgery in Chennai is around Rs.50,000/-. Depending on the clinic/hospital and the experience of the doctors, this number may change. Hydrocele doesn’t usually need hospitalization. Your health insurance will cover the cost of the surgery, however it is often advised to check with your insurance provider to confirm the same.