Hydrocele (Type Not Specified) 

The testicles first form in the abdomen of the male fetus. Just before birth, the testicles move down into the scrotum. As this happens, fluid from the abdomen may pass into the scrotum and become sealed off there in a small sac. This is called a non-communicating hydrocele.

In some babies, the passage between the abdomen and the scrotum remains open. In this case, the bulge may get bigger and smaller as the fluid passes back and forth from the abdomen to the scrotum. This is called a communicating hydrocele.

The danger of this second kind of hydrocele is that it can lead to a hernia. A hernia looks like a painless bulge in the groin or scrotum. A hernia in a baby can cause tissue death (gangrene) and rupture of the intestine. This is a life-threatening emergency and requires surgery right away. So you should watch for this condition.

Most hydroceles shrink and disappear by the age of 1 or 2 years and need no treatment. If the hydrocele doesn't go away by 2 years of age, it may need to be corrected with surgery.

Home care

A small hydrocele won't interfere in any way with normal activity. You don't need to take any special precautions. Just observe the size of your baby's scrotum as you provide daily care and tell your child's healthcare provider right away if you notice any changes.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider, or as advised. This is to be sure the hydrocele is shrinking and that no hernia appears.

When to seek medical advice

Call your child's healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • A new bulge in the groin that appears just above the thigh crease or in the scrotum

  • Changes in size of the hydrocele. This can mean that it gets smaller, then larger, then smaller. Or it gets larger and stays larger.

  • Pain, redness or tenderness in the hydrocele

  • Pain in the testicle that happens with nausea, vomiting, or both

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