Hydrocele in Newborns & Adults: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prognosis
What Is Hydrocele In Newborns And Adults?
Hydrocele is a medical condition in which there is formation of a fluid filled sac around the testicles which results in swelling of the scrotal areas. This condition is very common in newborn babies. It is usually a self limiting condition and resolves by the time the baby is one year of age. Hydrocele can also develop in adults, but this is usually because of some sort of injury to the scrotal areas like being hit by a ball while playing or being hit while bicycling. Hydrocele is usually not a painful condition and does not require any specific treatment, although if the swelling in the scrotal area is persistent then an evaluation by a physician may be required.
What Are The Causes Of Hydrocele?
Causes Of Hydrocele In Newborns: Hydrocele usually tends to develop before birth. Under normal circumstances, the testicles of the fetus descend from the abdominal cavity to the scrotum. There is a sac present with each testicle which allows fluid to surround the testicles. Normally, the sac closes up absorbing the fluid, although in some abnormal cases some amount of fluid can still remain unabsorbed resulting in Hydrocele. This fluid gets absorbed within the first year after birth. At times, the sac does not close and thus changes in size or if compressed the unabsorbed fluid can flow back into the abdomen, again causing Hydrocele. This type of Hydrocele is usually found in association with a medical condition called inguinal hernia.
Causes Of Hydrocele In Adults: Hydrocele in adults can be caused due to some sort of injury to the scrotal areas like being hit by a ball or while riding a bicycle. It can also be caused by an infection or inflammation of the testicle.
What Are The Symptoms Of Hydrocele?
The only indication for presence of Hydrocele is visible swelling of the scrotum. This swelling is normally not painful. In case of adults, the individual may have discomfort due to the increased size of the scrotum due to the swelling. There may also be slight pain due to the swelling and discomfort.
How Is Hydrocele Diagnosed?
In order to diagnose Hydrocele, the treating physician will conduct a detailed physical examination looking for areas of tenderness in the swollen scrotum. The physician will palpate the abdominal and scrotal areas to look for any signs of hernia. The physician will also perform a transillumination of the scrotum which will clearly indicate the presence of fluid around the scrotum.
Additionally, the physician may order blood screenings to rule out infections causing the swelling. An ultrasound will also be done to rule out other medication conditions like hernia or tumors resulting in swelling.
What Are The Treatments For Hydrocele?
Treatment Of Hydrocele In Newborns:
When it comes to treatment for Hydrocele in newborn babies, there is no specific treatment required and the condition resolves itself by the time the baby is one year of age. If that is not the case and the swelling persists or increases in size then surgery may be required for removal of fluid.
Treatment Of Hydrocele In Adults:
In case of adults, it takes approximately six months for the swelling to resolve. In case the swelling gets large enough to cause significant discomfort to the individual then surgery may be required for treatment of Hydrocele.
Surgery For Hydrocele:
Hydrocelectomy: The surgery performed for treating Hydrocele is called as Hydrocelectomy. This procedure is done usually on an outpatient basis under general anesthesia. A small incision is made in the scrotum or the abdominal area for removal of Hydrocele. Additionally, if Hydrocele is found during a procedure for any other condition like hernia then the surgeon removes the Hydrocele even if that may not be causing any discomfort to the individual.
Post surgery, the individual will require a tube for drainage of fluid. For relieving discomfort, the surgeon may prescribe a scrotal support strap and ice packs for reduction of swelling.
Needle Aspiration For Hydrocele:
Another treatment that is done for Hydrocele is needle aspiration. In this form of treatment, the fluid causing the Hydrocele is drained using a long needle. This needle is inserted in the sac containing the fluid and the fluid is drained out. At times, a medication is also injected into the sac to prevent Hydrocele from recurring. This type of treatment is done for those individuals who are not good candidates for surgical procedures and may have complications. The only side effect with this form of treatment is some pain in the scrotum which resolves after some time.
What Is The Prognosis For Hydrocele Postsurgery?
The overall prognosis for Hydrocele is excellent with surgery and even if surgery is not required for treatment. The pain that an individual experiences after surgery usually subsides within a week. The individual may have to take pain medications for a few days for pain relief. It may take a few weeks for an individual to be able to perform normal activities of daily living and other activities like cycling or other strenuous activities. The incision made during surgery usually heals in a few weeks and the stitches are absorbed by the body.
What Is The Difference Between Communicating Hydrocele And Noncommunicating Hydrocele?
Communicating Hydrocele: In this form of Hydrocele, there is improper closure of the opening between the abdominal cavity and scrotum resulting in the abdominal passing into the sac around the testis resulting in a mass called as Communicating Hydrocele. This condition is quite common in newborn babies and resolves by the time the baby is one year of age. This condition is not associated with any pain but there is presence of visible swelling around the scrotum. If the swelling does not resolve on its own and increases in size then a surgery to remove the hydrocele is recommended. This surgical procedure is called hydrocelectomy.
Noncommunicating Hydrocele: This type of Hydrocele can also be present at birth and even may develop later on in life. In Noncommunicating Hydrocele, the opening between the abdominal cavity and the scrotum closes appropriately, but the fluid surrounding the scrotum is not absorbed fully resulting in swelling of the scrotum causing Noncommunicating Hydrocele. The fluid takes usually one year to be fully absorbed and the condition to resolve. Again it is a self limiting condition but in case the swelling does not resolve on its own and increases then surgery may be required for removal of the hydrocele.