Urology Blog

What is a Hydrocele?

There are several areas of the male reproductive and urinary systems that may need specific care at some point. We usually hear about conditions such as erectile dysfunction or enlarged prostate, but there are other ways in which a man’s health may be affected. Here, we discuss the issue of a hydrocele, what it is, and how it may be treated.

Hydrocele Characteristics and Symptoms

A hydrocele is a buildup of fluid within the sac called the tunica vaginalis. This sac is what holds each teste. There is an inner lining and an outer lining to the tunica vaginalis, separated by a small amount of fluid. The lubrication from the fluid allows the testicles to move within the scrotum. The inner lining of the sac is where the fluid is made, and the outer lining is where fluid gets absorbed. An interruption in the absorption of fluid can lead to accumulation. This interruption may be caused b a tumor, trauma, or infection. Sometimes, there is no clear underlying cause for a hydrocele.

How a Hydrocele is Diagnosed

The most common symptom of a hydrocele is swelling. Mild to moderate swelling may not cause any discomfort. However, men may notice the swelling as tightness or may be troubled by the visible nature of the enlarged scrotum. A urologist performs a thorough examination that includes what is called transillumination of the scrotum. This is a painless exam in which a bright light is shone on the scrotum, showing the clear fluid in the sac. Lab tests and an ultrasound may also be ordered, depending on the potential for infection or other contributing issues.

Treating the Hydrocele

Not all hydroceles need to be treated. If the fluid accumulation is relatively mild and is not causing physical or emotional discomfort, treatment may be to simply watch and wait. If the patient is embarrassed about the swelling in their scrotum or is experiencing discomfort, a minor procedure may be performed to drain excess fluid. This is a simple approach but not one that guarantees permanent results. To significantly reduce the risk of further fluid accumulation, a urologist may recommend an outpatient surgical procedure to repair the hydrocele and reposition the sac in a way that allows fluid to drain more efficiently.

UT Urology offers professional, friendly service in Chattanooga. To schedule a consultation with one of our experienced specialists, call (423) 778-5910.

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