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A hydrocele (say "HY-druh-seel") is a buildup of watery fluid around one or both testicles. It causes the scrotum or groin area to swell.
Many baby boys are born with this condition. The swelling it causes may look scary, but it is usually not a problem. It will probably go away by the time your baby is 2 years old.
A month or so before birth, a baby's testicles move from the belly area down into the scrotum, along with a bit of the lining of the belly area. The lining shrivels up, leaving a small empty space around the testicles. This space normally closes up by the time a baby is 2 years old.
Sometimes fluid leaks into the space, filling it like a small water balloon. This is a hydrocele. There are different kinds:
The usual symptom is a swollen scrotum. The swelling does not hurt. If your child seems to be in pain, call the doctor. Pain may mean that your child has a hernia or another problem.
Most of the time, all you need to do is watch for any changes in the swelling. If the swelling gets bigger or if it comes and goes, tell your doctor.
Your child may need surgery if:
Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.
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Current as of: August 21, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
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