For baby boys, a hydrocele can develop in the womb. Normally, the testicles descend from the developing baby's abdominal cavity into the scrotum. A sac (processus vaginalis) accompanies each testicle, allowing fluid to surround the testicles.
In most cases, each sac closes and the fluid is absorbed. However, if the fluid remains after the sac closes, the condition is known as a noncommunicating hydrocele. Because the sac is closed, fluid can't flow back into the abdomen. Usually the fluid gets absorbed within a year.
In some cases, however, the sac remains open. With this condition, known as communicating hydrocele, the sac can change size or, if the scrotal sac is compressed, fluid can flow back into the abdomen.
In older males, a hydrocele can develop as a result of inflammation or injury within the scrotum. Inflammation may be the result of infection of the small coiled tube at the back of each testicle (epididymitis) or of the testicle.
Nov. 03, 2011
- Elder JS. Disorders and anomalies of the scrotal contents. In: Kliegman RM, et al. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/208746819-6/0/1608/0.html. Accessed Sept. 17, 2011.
- Hydroceles and inguinal hernias. American Urological Association. http://www.urologyhealth.org/urology/index.cfm?article=129. Accessed Sept. 17, 2011.
- Wampler SM. Common scrotal and testicular problems. Primary Care: Clinics in Office Practice. 2010;37:613.
- Barthold JS. Abnormalities of the testes and scrotum and their surgical management. In: Wein AJ, et al. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/208746819-6/0/1445/0.html. Accessed Sept. 17, 2011.
- Albanese CT, et al. Pediatric surgery. In: Doherty GM. Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Surgery. 13th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2010. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=5316074. Accessed Sept. 17, 2011.
- Hydrocele. National Guideline Clearinghouse. http://www.guideline.gov/content.aspx?id=12592. Accessed Sept. 17, 2011.
- Painless scrotal mass. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/genitourinary_disorders/symptoms_of_genitourinary_disorders/painless_scrotal_mass.html. Accessed Sept. 17, 2011.
- Cimador M, et al. Management of hydrocele in adolescent patients. Nature Reviews Urology. 2010;7:379.