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Dr Mufique Gajdhar, MS, M.CH, FACS


What is hydrocele in children?

Hydrocele is a collection of fluid in a thin pouch that holds the testicles in the scrotum. One in ten boys suffers from hydrocele at birth. In most cases it disappears without treatment in the first year.

What causes hydrocele in Children?

For babies growing in the womb, the pouch is formed on the baby’s abdomen (abdomen). It then moves to the scrotum with the testicles. After the pouch enters the testicles, it is sealed from the abdomen. However, in some cases this does not happen normally. Then it can cause hydrocele.

There are two types of hydroceles:

Communicating Hydrocele – This type occurs when the pouch that holds the testicles is not completely closed. A small amount of abdominal fluid can enter and leave the thin pouch. The amount of water changes day and night. This will change the size of the hydrocele.

Non – communicating hydrocele – This type may be present at birth. It often disappears spontaneously within a year without treatment. But this type of hydrocele in an older child may be a sign of other problems. These include infection, twisting of the testes (torsion), or a tumor.

What are the symptoms of a hydrocele in a child?

Symptoms can be a bit different in each child. They can include:

– A lump or swelling that is smooth and not painful

– A scrotum that gets smaller at night while lying flat, and bigger during activity

How is a hydrocele diagnosed in a child?

We will ask about your child’s symptoms and health history and then take a physical examination.

We may need to check if the mass is a hydrocele or an inguinal hernia. An inguinal hernia is a weak area in the lower belly wall (inguinal canal) where intestines may bulge. To check for this problem, your child may have an ultrasound study. This is a painless imaging test. It uses sound waves to look at tissues in the body.

We may also shine a strong light through one side of the scrotum, and look at the scrotum from the other side. This is called transillumination. This will help show if the problem is a hydrocele or a hernia.

How is a hydrocele treated in a child?

Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.

A noncommunicating hydrocele often goes away on its own by the time a child reaches his first birthday. The fluid is reabsorbed into the body from the pouch.

A hydrocele that lasts longer than 12 to 18 months is often a communicating hydrocele. This often needs surgery to prevent an inguinal hernia. The surgery is done by making a small cut (incision) in the groin. The provider drains the fluid and closes off the opening to the pouch.

Talk with us to know about the risks, benefits, and possible side effects of all treatments.

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Dr. Mufique Gajdhar is a Pediatric and Neonatal Surgeon with 21 years of experience in healthcare. He is double board-certified in General and Pediatric Surgery. Dr. Mufique is the Head of the Division and Assistant Professor of Pediatric Surgery.

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