Baby boys sometimes have a hydrocele at birth. Hydroceles also occur in older boys and men. Sometimes they form when there is also a hernia (an abnormal bulging of tissue) present. Hydroceles are fairly common.
Surgery to repair a hydrocele is often done at an outpatient clinic. General anesthesia is used so you will be asleep and pain-free during the procedure.
In a baby or child:
Needle drainage of the fluid is not done very often because the problem will always come back.
Why the Procedure Is Performed
Hydroceles often go away on their own in children, but not in adults. Most hydroceles in infants will go away by the time they are 2 years old.
Your surgeon may recommend hydrocele repair if the hydrocele:
The repair may also be done if there is a hernia associated with the problem.
Risks for any anesthesia are:
Risks for any surgery are:
Before the Procedure
Always tell your health care provider what drugs you are taking, even drugs, supplements, or herbs you bought without a prescription. Also tell your provider if you have any drug allergies or if you have had bleeding problems in the past.
Several days before surgery, adults may be asked to stop taking aspirin or other drugs that affect blood clotting. These include ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), naproxen (Naprosyn, Aleve), some herbal supplements, and others.
You or your child may be asked to stop eating and drinking at least 6 hours before the procedure.
Take the medicines you have been told to take with a small sip of water.
After the Procedure
Recovery is quick in most cases. Most people can go home a few hours after surgery. Children should limit activity and get extra rest in the first few days after surgery. In most cases, normal activity can start again in about 4 to 7 days.
The success rate for hydrocele repair is very high. The long-term outlook is excellent. However, another hydrocele may form over time, or if there was also a hernia present.
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Cancian MJ, Caldamone AA. Special considerations in the pediatric patient. In: Taneja SS, Shah O, eds. Taneja's Complications of Urologic Surgery. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 54.
Celigoj FA, Costabile RA. Surgery of the scrotum and seminal vesicles. In: Wein AJ, Kavoussi LR, Partin AW, Peters CA, eds. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 41.
Palmer LS, Palmer JS. Management of abnormalities of the external genitalia in boys. In: Wein AJ, Kavoussi LR, Partin AW, Peters CA, eds. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 146.
Review Date: 1/31/2019
Reviewed By: Sovrin M. Shah, MD, Assistant Professor, Department of Urology, The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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