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- While hydroceles may occur in either gender, they are much more common in males.
- A hydrocele is a collection of clear fluid in a thin walled sack present in the scrotum.
- Hydroceles may be either one sided or occupy both sides.
- Hydroceles are painless, soft swellings and may be either present at birth (congenital) or develop later.
- A very large majority of hydroceles present at birth resolve spontaneously by one year of age.
- Hydroceles that are not congenital or those still present after one year of age generally warrant surgical correction.
- There are other conditions that must be considered when evaluating a boy with chronic, non-tender scrotal swelling. These include hernia, varicocele and tumor. Physical examination is very helpful in sorting through these options. Rarely are diagnostic or invasive studies necessary.
What is a hydrocele?
A hydrocele is a scrotal collection of clear fluid ("hydro" = water) in a thin walled sack ("cele" = swelling) that also contains the testicle. Less frequently, due to the common embryological background of male and female gonadal structures, female children or women may also experience a hydrocele. In this case, the sack and connection exist in the labia majora (the outermost and larger of the two labial structures). Because of less potential concern for complications in females with hydroceles, this article will focus predominantly on the male gender. A hydrocele may involve either one side (unilateral) or both sides (bilateral) of the scrotum.