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A hydrocele is a buildup of fluid that can develop around one or both testicles, causing swelling in the scrotum and groin area. While it’s not typically painful or harmful, a hydrocele should be evaluated by a physician.

More often than not, a hydrocele occurs in infants. However, adult males can also develop a hydrocele as a result of injury, inflammation, or infection.

In most cases, the only indication of a hydrocele is painless swelling of one or both testicles. Particularly in adult men, there may also be discomfort and a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum. Pain is rare but can occur.

Causes and Risk Factors

A hydrocele can develop before or after birth. When the testicles descend into the scrotum, the fluid in the sac surrounding the testicles is normally absorbed after the sac closes. A hydrocele develops when the fluid remains in the sac after it closes. In older men, a hydrocele can occur as a result of injury to or inflammation within the scrotum.

Diagnosis and Treatment

To diagnosis a hydrocele, a physician typically checks for tenderness in an enlarged scrotum. He will also shine a light on the scrotum to illuminate any clear fluid surrounding the testicle.

The doctor may also order blood and urine tests to determine if there’s an infection present. An ultrasound can help rule out hernia, tumors, and other causes of scrotal swelling.

When a hydrocele presents in an infant boy, most physicians will recommend waiting to see if it disappears on its own. If it doesn’t, it may need to be surgically removed during an outpatient procedure known as hydrocelectomy. The procedure is usually recommended for adult men with a hydrocele, also, as it’s unlikely to go away on its own later in life. A follow-up examination is typically ordered because a hydrocele can recur.

If you or your child is experiencing swelling in the scrotum and suspect a hydrocele, the Urology specialists at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic in Houston can recommend treatment and remove the hydrocele, if needed.

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