For baby boys, hydroceles typically disappear on their own within a year. If a hydrocele doesn't disappear after a year or if it continues to enlarge, it may need to be surgically removed.
For adult males as well, hydroceles often go away on their own within six months. A hydrocele requires treatment only if it gets large enough to cause discomfort or disfigurement. Then it may need to be removed.
Treatment approaches include:
Surgical excision (hydrocelectomy). Removal of a hydrocele may be performed on an outpatient basis using general or spinal anesthesia. The surgeon may make an incision in the scrotum or lower abdomen to remove the hydrocele. If a hydrocele is discovered during surgery to repair an inguinal hernia, your doctor may remove it even if it's causing you no discomfort.
A hydrocelectomy may require you to have a drainage tube and wear a bulky dressing over the site of the incision for a few days after surgery. Also, you may be advised to wear a scrotal support for a time after surgery. Ice packs applied to the scrotal area after surgery may help reduce swelling. Surgical risks include blood clots, infection or injury to the scrotum.
- Needle aspiration. Another option is to remove the fluid in the scrotum with a needle. The injection of a thickening or hardening (sclerosing) drug after the aspiration may help prevent the fluid from reaccumulating. Aspiration and injection may be an option for men who have risk factors that make surgery more dangerous. Risks of this procedure include infection and scrotal pain.
Sometimes, a hydrocele may recur after treatment.
Nov. 03, 2011
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- 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.
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