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What is a Hydrocele?

A hydrocele is a collection of fluid around the testicle that causes swelling in the scrotum. Hydroceles are common in newborns; they develop when the fluid in the sac surrounding each testicle does not get absorbed before birth. Hydroceles in newborns often disappear on their own during the first year of life. They are rare in adults, but when they occur, they are usually caused by injury, infection, or swelling in the scrotum, testicle, or epididymis, which is a coiled tube behind each testicle.

Hydroceles are typically painless, and surgical repair or removal, called hydrocelectomy, is only necessary if they continue to grow. In a hydrocelectomy, the surgeon makes an incision in or near the scrotum and uses suction to drain the fluid. The sac that contained the fluid may be cut and removed as well, or it may be stitched onto the back of the testis and epididymis, before the incision is closed.

This procedure may be done at an outpatient facility, so a hospital stay is usually not required. Normal activities can be resumed a few days following surgery, but exercise and other strenuous activities should be avoided for about two to four weeks.

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