Hydrocele in children

Infants often have a sudden or congenital swelling in the scrotum. At such times the baby is more likely to have hydrocele or hernia. Hydrocele in children causes the child’s parents to panic. It is important to consult your pediatrician instead.

So in this article, let’s find out, what are the causes of hydrocele in children and what is the treatment for it and solve your all doubts about hydrocele.

What is hydrocele in children ?

Babies usually have a layer on the lining of the testis in which water is formed. So the testis can move freely. If too much water builds up in that layer, it goes back into the bloodstream through a vein.

But when this process of accumulation and passage of water through the veins gets unbalanced, then this water starts to accumulate around the testis of the child and at that place the child gets swelling in the scrotum. The swelling in the scrotum caused by this water is called Hydrocele. Hydrocele present on one side or sometimes on both sides.

What are the causes of hydrocele in children?

When the baby is in the mother’s womb, all babies have a passage near the abdomen and pelvis which is called as inguinal canal. In boys it opens into the scrotum, while in girls it opens into the labia. The covering of this canal is called as processes vaginalis. In boys and girls, this canal is usually closed before birth.

Non-communicating hydrocele

When inguinal canal closes, water accumulates around the testis. Therefore, this accumulated water has no communication with the abdomen, hence it is called as non-communicating hydrocele.

Communicating hydrocele

If the inguinal canal is not closed at birth, the water that accumulates in the scrotum is also reduced due to communication with the abdomen. Hence it is called as communicating hydrocele.

With such hydrocele, the child may also have a hernia, as the inguinal canal is open, allowing the abdominal content such as intestine to enter in the scrotum. So the swelling over the scrotum increases and decreases from time to time.

In older men, hydrocele can develop if the testis or epidydimis (sperm carrying tube) are infected or when there is some injury to the testis.

Hydrocele is found in babies at birth. Hydrocele appears in about five percent of newborn babies. Preterm babies have a higher incidence of having hydrocele.

What are the symptoms of hydrocele in children?

The symptoms of each baby may be different, mainly swelling of the scrotum and pain without swelling. Also in some children the swelling on the scrotum decreases during sleep and increases during the day.

How is hydrocele diagnosed in children?

The doctor diagnoses the child with hydrocele based on his symptoms and physical examination.

  • Trans Illumination Test

Doctors often put a torch on the swollen area and look at it from the other side. This test is called a trans illumination test.

  • Sonography

Hydrocele is diagnosed by physical examination, but the child has some other ailments with it, so Sonography can be done to check this.

What is the treatment of hydrocele in children?

If the child has non-communicating hydrocele, it heals by the child’s first birthday. i.e. the swelling on the scrotum is completely reduced. So the doctor immediately tells parents to wait for a year without surgery. If the swelling on the scrotum does not subside after one year, the child may need surgery.

If the child has a communicating hydrocele, the child must undergo surgery. This is because of the inguinal canal cannot close its own and such children are more likely to have an inguinal hernia.

How is hydrocele surgery performed in children?

The hydrocele operation is called hydrocelectomy. This operation is day-care surgery so that the baby can discharge on the day of the operation. This operation is done by anesthetizing the baby.

The hydrocele operation involves making an incision in the baby’s groin area and removing the water that has accumulated in the scrotum and removing part of the inguinal sac and closure of the inguinal canal so there will not be any recurrence later.

If the baby has a communicating hydrocele, inguinal canal is closed by sutures after separating vas deference (sperm carrying tube) and blood vessels to prevent future hernias. Complications of this operation are very rare.

After the operation, the doctor prescribes medicines to reduce the child’s pain and prevent infection on the sutures. Young children do not suffer much from this operation. The doctor needs to be follow up on the date given. After reading all of the above information, you know exactly what to do if your baby has this condition.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is hydrocele dangerous to life?

Hydrocele is not life threatening but communicating hydrocele can lead to hernia and, if present, there are chances of intestinal obstruction to happen. Therefore, at such a time, the child needs immediate operation.

Is hydrocele gets cured with medicine ?

Hydrocele is not a cure with the help of medicine. If there is non-communicating hydrocele, it heals within a year and if it does not heal, surgery is required.

What is the water that accumulates in the hydrocele?

The water that accumulates in the hydrocele is called serous fluid.

Does hydrocele have any effect on testis or semen?

Generally, hydrocele has no effect on testis and semen in older men. But if hydrocele is caused by an testicular infection or a tumor, it affects the semen.

What is the difference between hydrocele and varicocele?

Hydrocele contains water that accumulates around the testis. In varicocele, the veins from the testis are swollen.

Is the swelling on the scrotum completely reduced after the operation?

Swelling of the scrotum is completely reduced in about 99% of patients. Also, if there is some swelling left, it goes away completely in a month.

Does hydrocele operation cause future reproductive problems in the child?

The operation of the hydrocele does not cause any trouble to the child for future reproduction. Therefore, it is better to have an operation by a specialist pediatric surgeon.

If a child has hydrocele, it is important to consult a pediatrician without panic. Since Hydrocele operation is a day care surgery, the baby is discharged from the hospital in one day. If you have any more questions, you can comment and if you like hydrocele in children article, be sure to share.

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Dr Nikhil Rane is Consultant pediatrician and neonatologist. He likes to provide proper care for children health. He is blogger since last 7 years

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