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What is a hydrocele?

A hydrocele is a buildup of fluid in the scrotum, which is the sac that holds the testicle. This buildup of fluid is fairly common in male newborns.

What is the cause?

Before birth, the testicles develop in the baby’s belly. The testicles come down into the scrotum through a tube. Fluid from the belly (abdomen) also comes down this tube. Most of the time this tube closes by itself and the fluid around the testicle gets absorbed and goes away. If the tube does not close properly, fluid may keep draining into the scrotum. The reason that the tube does not close is not known.

What are the symptoms?

Your child's scrotum may look very swollen or larger on one side. The hydrocele may change in size as the fluid comes and goes in and out of the scrotum. Usually it does not cause any pain.

How is it diagnosed?

Your child’s healthcare provider will ask about your child’s symptoms and medical history and examine your child.

How is it treated?

Usually the fluid will be absorbed by the body during the first few months of life and won’t need any treatment.

Sometimes a relatively minor surgical procedure is needed to fix the hydrocele. The opening between the scrotum and the abdomen is closed and the fluid is removed from the scrotum.

How can I take care of my child?

Follow the full course of treatment prescribed by your healthcare provider. Ask your provider:

  • If there are activities your child should avoid and when he can return to his normal activities
  • How to take care of your child at home
  • What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if your child has them

Make sure you know when your child should come back for a checkup. Keep all appointments for provider visits or tests.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Pediatric Advisor 2015.2 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2015-03-01
Last reviewed: 2013-09-23
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.
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