You may have developed hydrocele if you have noticed swelling around your scrotum area and are wondering what it is all about. Even though this problem can arise for many reasons, a complete cure is possible with the help of hydrocele surgery and even medications depending on the person’s condition.
If you are still wondering what hydrocele is about, its symptoms, the right treatment, when to consult a doctor, and so on, then you are on the right page. To find out everything about hydrocele, let’s get started.
What is Hydrocele?
Hydrocele is a medical condition in which the fluid accumulates in the scrotum (the sac-like structure that holds the testicles), often first identified as swelling of the scrotum.
Even though a hydrocele can occur among men of any age, it most frequently affects infants or men above 40. Paediatric hydroceles are mainly congenital, and in most cases, it resolves in a year or so. In adults, it can occur due to injury or trauma to the scrotum or any other medical condition.
Hydroceles are mainly of two types:
- Communicating Hydrocele: This type of hydrocele connects with the fluid in the abdominal cavity. They generally occur due to the non-closure of the processus vaginalis, a thin membrane that extends from the inguinal canal in the abdomen and to the scrotum.
- Non-Communicating Hydrocele develops due to extra fluid accumulation in the scrotum for an apparent reason, or it might be present at birth. There is no connection between the fluids in the abdominal cavity and the scrotum in this type of hydrocele.
Symptoms of Hydrocele in Adults
Despite being a child or an adult, one must immediately seek medical attention if one sees or feels swelling in the scrotum. Hydrocele in infants has been known to get resolved without assistance within a period. Even though hydrocele is mostly painless in most conditions, some of the most common hydrocele symptoms are:
- Scrotal Swelling: The scrotum or the scrotal sac is enlarged due to fluid accumulation. This affects the testicles, and not receiving timely treatments can result in losing the testicles because of tissue failure.
- Scrotal Heaviness: Adults may experience heaviness in the scrotum. One needs to know that this heaviness and swelling may be worse in the mornings than in the evenings. There is usually no pain, and the testicle size may remain the same or enlarge slowly.
Causes of Hydrocele in Adults
While hydroceles are majorly prevalent in newborns and infants, they can also develop in adults. The causes of hydrocele in adults can vary, and understanding the cause can help determine the right treatment line to cure the condition. Mentioned below are some of the common causes of hydrocele.
- Injury or Trauma: Adults who have experienced trauma or injury to their testicles or scrotum may develop a hydrocele. Fluid accumulation can occur due to accidents, sports injuries, or direct blows to the genital region that interrupts the regular flow of fluid.
- Infection: A hydrocele can develop due to inflammation and swelling brought on by scrotal or testicular infections such as epididymitis (coiled tube storing sperm cells), orchitis (inflammation of the testicles) or sexually transmitted infections. These illnesses may be bacterial or viral in origin.
- Tunica Vaginalis: A condition in which the epithelial cells in the sac constantly produce and absorb the fluids leading to excess fluids, is one of the potential causes of hydrocele.
- Blockage or Obstruction: In adults, hydroceles may be brought on by blockage or obstruction of the tubes that allow scrotal fluid to drain. This could happen due to hernias, cysts, or previous groyne surgery.
- Medical Complications: Another reason for hydrocele in adults can be the presence of health complications. Conditions like liver cirrhosis, heart, and renal failure can lead to excessive fluid accumulation in the body, causing hydrocele.
- Testicular Tumours: Hydroceles may occasionally be connected to testicular tumours. These tumours may restrict fluid flow, leading to fluid buildup in the scrotum.
Babies born prematurely—more than three weeks before their due dates—are more likely to develop a hydrocele.
Prevention of Hydrocele
Even though hydrocele can not always be prevented, undertaking some preventive measures can help lower the risk of developing hydrocele. The prevention of hydrocele can be done in the following ways:
- Avoiding Scrotal Trauma: One must take complete precautions to prevent injuries to the scrotum and the surrounding areas. This means using protective equipment before indulging in sports or other work activities that can impact the scrotal area.
- Prompt Treatments of Scrotal Infections: Scrotum infections such as epididymitis and orchitis should be diagnosed and treated on time to control and manage the risk of complications. If one experiences pain, discharge, or swelling symptoms, one must immediately seek medical attention.
- Safe Sexual Practices: Practicing safe sex with the help of barrier methods such as condoms help to minimize and control the risk of sexually transmitted diseases and keeps a person safe from problems like hydrocele.
Diagnosis and Treatment for Hydrocele
Your general surgeon or urologist will recommend a physical examination to look out for the bulge and enlargement of the scrotum.
Following the physical examination, the physician may also recommend the following tests:
- Transillumination: The physician will use a light source to check for the presence of a hydrocele. If the light does not pass through, then it indicates a condition.
- Testicular Ultrasound: The physician uses ultrasound to confirm the cause of the hydrocele and diagnose other testicular conditions.
Based on the diagnosis and other factors (age, medical conditions of the patient, etc), the physician will recommend the patient with one of the following hydrocele surgery procedures.
- Open Hydrocele Surgery: The traditional open hydrocele surgery involves incision and draining the fluid from the scrotum.
- Laser Hydrocele Surgery or laser hydrocelectomy is a minimally invasive surgery in which the laser beam is used to make a small incision in the scrotum to drain the fluid out.
In most cases, people can be discharged the same day as the surgery, and an overnight stay is also not required. However, this may vary according to the condition and overall health of the patient.
Even though the exact cause of the Hydrocele is unknown, one needs to seek medical help when one feels discomfort or pain. One should also understand that this condition can be associated with other underlying health conditions. With the help of preventive measures and hydrocele surgery, one can easily control and manage this problem.