What Is A Hydrocele?
A hydrocele is fluid around the testicle that causes the scrotum to look swollen. Hydroceles are painless and found in newborn boys, especially premature babies. You may notice a hydrocele when one of your child’s testicles looks bigger than the other.
We diagnose two types of hydroceles – communicating and non-communicating
A non-communicating hydrocele is usually found in newborn boys. In the eighth month of pregnancy, the testicles move down into the scrotum, bringing a fluid filled sac with it, which surrounds the testicles. In normal development, the sac closes before birth and the fluid is absorbed naturally. A non-communicating hydrocele occurs when this sac closes but the fluid remains. We typically watch this kind of hydrocele over the course of your baby’s first year as in the majority of cases, the fluid is absorbed over time with no intervention necessary.
Communicating hydroceles represent a neonatal hernia.
A hydrocele is not painful or harmful to your son, but you or your child's doctor may notice that his scrotum appears swollen. The fluid surrounding the testicle makes it difficult for your baby’s doctor to feel the testicle inside the scrotum. Sometimes, the doctor will take a small flashlight and shine the light on your baby’s scrotum.
How Is A Hydrocele Treated?
If your baby has a non-communicating hydrocele, we typically take a wait and see approach as the majority of these hydroceles go away on their own over time. If the hydrocele is still present at age one or gets larger with time, then Dr. Clements may discuss surgery with you.
If we determine that your son has a communicating hydrocele through examination, surgery for the hernia is often recommended.
What To Expect During Surgery
To help prepare parents of young children for surgery, Dr. Clements will walk you through the steps before, during and after your child’s procedure. Prior to surgery, hospital staff will greet you where your child will be prepped for his procedure. Dr. Clements and an anesthesiologist will meet with you before the surgery to explain the procedure and make sure we have answered all of your questions.
The surgery itself is common and entails a small incision in the groin area where Dr. Clements will drain the fluid from the sac. Several small, dissolvable stitches will help reinforce the muscles wall and close the small incision.
After the surgery, your son will be moved to the recovery area where the nurses will monitor him as he comes out of the anesthesia.
You will be able to join your child in recovery. Most children will go home the same day.
What To Expect After Surgery
In the recovery room, nurses will monitor your child’s vitals as he slowly comes out of the anesthesia. Your child’s nurse will go over written instructions for caring for the surgical site once you get home. This will include how to keep the area clean. The stitches will dissolve on their own.
You will be given specific instructions for bathing during the post-op period.
For older children, a two-week restriction from contact sports and gym activities is often given.
You will then see Dr. Clements for a scheduled appointment, two to three months post operatively to ensure the incision has healed appropriately.
If you have any questions before or after your son’s surgery, please contact our office at (717) 763-1174. We are always happy to answer any questions you have about your child’s health.