Diagnosing and Treating a Hydrocele
Men’s health conversations often revolve around prostate concerns and erectile dysfunction. The male anatomy, in its complexity, can develop other conditions that also need specific care. Here, we discuss what a hydrocele is, what symptoms it may cause, how a urologist may diagnose this problem, and how a hydrocele can be treated.
What is a hydrocele?
A hydrocele is the accumulation of fluid inside the sac that holds the testicle. Each testicle sits within the tunica vaginalis, a sac with an inner and outer lining. A small amount of fluid exists between the two layers. It acts as lubrication that allows the testes to move comfortably within the scrotum. Fluid is produced in the inner layer and is absorbed by the outer layer. A hydrocele forms when the balance of production and reabsorption is disrupted. The process may be interrupted by a lack of absorption in the outer layer of tissue or by infection, trauma, or a tumor.
Depending on the amount of fluid present, this can cause the scrotum to enlarge. In some cases, the scrotum can balloon several times larger than its normal size. Unless swelling is severe, most men who develop a hydrocele do not report pain.
How a Hydrocele is Diagnosed
A urologist can diagnose a hydrocele by conducting a thorough consultation and symptom review, followed by a physical examination. A light may be used to illuminate the scrotum, which can show clear fluid within the scrotum. An ultrasound of the scrotum may be ordered to examine the underlying testicle. Lab tests may be ordered to rule out infection.
Treating the Hydrocele
Many hydroceles do not require treatment. Not treating a hydrocele may not cause you any future problems. Treatment may only be necessary if the hydrocele accumulates enough fluid to cause tightness, discomfort, or embarrassment. In such instances, the fluid can be drained from the sac using a small needle and a local anesthetic. This minor procedure can be beneficial but is not a permanent solution. If necessary, hydrocele repair surgery may be suggested as it is the most effective. This outpatient procedure has a history of success at achieving long-term results and may be ideal for men who have experienced recurrent accumulation of fluid.
Dr. Shridharani is a board-certified urologist with years of experience diagnosing and treating a wide variety of men’s health concerns. To schedule a visit at our Chattanooga office, call (423) 778-4MEN (4636).