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What is Hydrocele?

The testes are surrounded by a thin layer of tissue called the tunica vaginalis. Under some circumstances, fluid can accumulate between this layer and the testicle. This collection is called a hydrocele. In some cases this collection of fluid is temporary, such as after minor trauma to the testicle or if the body temporarily has excess fluid. In other cases the condition is long lasting. Hydroceles are very rarely related to any problem with the testicle itself.

There is another form of hydrocele in which there is a connection between the layer of tissue around the testicle and the inside of the abdomen. This form of hydrocele, called a “communicating hydrocele” is most common in children.

Symptoms of Hydrocele

A hydrocele is felt as a painless swelling of one or both testicles. This can be minor, or very large. Some patients may have discomfort directly related to the weight of the excess fluid pulling on the scrotum or difficulty walking due to its size.

Diagnosis of Hydrocele

Your doctor diagnoses hydrocele by performing a physical examination. They may order an ultrasound or other imaging study to confirm the diagnosis and better understand the anatomy, as some hydroceles can be related to hernias.

A hydrocele does not usually cause harm. However, surgery (hydrocelectomy) is indicated if a hydrocele is large, causing discomfort or develops an infection, or is related to an inguinal hernia.

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