In a baby growing in the womb, the tunica vaginalis is formed in the baby’s belly (abdomen) and then moves into the scrotum with the testes. After the pouch is in the testes, it seals off from the abdomen. But in some cases this doesn’t happen normally. It can then cause a hydrocele.
There are 2 types of hydrocele:
Symptoms can occur a bit differently in each child. They can include:
The symptoms of a hydrocele can be like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees his healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
The healthcare provider will ask about your child’s symptoms and health history. He or she will give your child a physical exam.
The healthcare provider may need to check if the mass is a hydrocele or an inguinal hernia. An inguinal hernia is a weak area in the lower belly wall (inguinal canal) where intestines may bulge. To check for this problem, your child may have an ultrasound study. This is a painless imaging test that uses sound waves to look at tissues in the body.
The healthcare provider may also shine a strong light through one side of the scrotum, and look at the scrotum from the other side. This is called transillumination. This will help show if the problem is a hydrocele or a hernia.
Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.
A noncommunicating hydrocele usually goes away on its own by the time a child reaches his first birthday. The fluid is reabsorbed into the body from the pouch.
A hydrocele that lasts longer than 12 to 18 months is usually a communicating hydrocele. This usually needs surgery to prevent an inguinal hernia. The surgery is done by making a small cut (incision) in the groin. The provider drains the fluid and closes off the opening to the tunica vaginalis.
Talk with your child’s healthcare provider about the risks, benefits, and possible side effects of all treatments.
Call the healthcare provider if your child has:
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider:
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