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Hydrocelectomy: An Effective Surgical Treatment for Hydroceles

What is a Hydrocele?

A hydrocele is a condition where the scrotum swells with fluid. It collects in the surrounding thin covering of the testicle called the tunica. Sometimes this fluid may accumulate in the sperm duct on top of the testicle and is called a spermatocele. Hydroceles are common occurrences in newborns. They typically disappear on their own after the first year of life.

In older boys and men, a hydrocele may develop if the scrotum is injured or inflamed. This ailment is usually not harmful or painful, however if you do experience scrotal swelling, it must be examined by a physician to determine the cause.

Often, the only sign of a hydrocele is the presence of swelling in the testicles. Some adult males with this condition may experience heaviness or discomfort with movement or sleep. The discomfort is generally proportionate to the degree of swelling.

How is a Hydrocele Treated?

Small hydroceles are diagnosed with physical exam in the office, and often a scrotal ultrasound is used for confirmation. Observation is usually all that is needed for small hydroceles that are the size of a racquet ball or smaller. Larger hydroceles tend to be uncomfortable; in this case a hydrocelectomy or office drainage may be recommended.

Hydrocelectomy is a surgical procedure to treat a hydrocele and prevent its recurrence. Office drainage of a hydrocele, while technically easy, carries a high rate of recurrence and is not recommended. Recurrence rates of hydrocele after surgery are much lower.

The procedure is performed under general anesthesia. In infants, a small incision is made in the groin (area where the upper thigh meets the trunk), and in adults, the incision is made horizontally on the scrotum. The fluid is drained after removing part of the hydrocele sac; the remaining sac is reconfigured behind the testicle and sutured closed. The incision is closed with dissolvable stitches.

What are the Risks Related to Hydrocelectomy?

Risks associated with surgery include bleeding, infection, and injury to the scrotal tissues while performing the surgery.

Patients should avoid eating and drinking for at least 6 to 8 hours before the surgery. Medicines such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), naproxen (Naprosyn), and herbal supplements should be stopped before the surgery.

What is the Recovery after Hydrocelectomy?

Hydrocelectomy takes about 30 minutes under anesthesia. Patients may return home after a brief waiting period. It is advisable to request a friend or family member to take you home after the procedure and monitor you for 24 hours.

For several days, expect some degree of soreness and swelling; this is temporary and will subside. You can apply a cold pack for up to 15 minutes at a time to reduce your discomfort. Medication will also be prescribed to help you feel comfortable as you heal and reduce pain. Since your scrotum will be wrapped in a bandage, it is recommended to wear a jockstrap for additional support for at least one week.

Don’t lift heavy weights, avoid vigorous exercise, and hold on sex for 1-2 weeks after surgery. Do not drive while you are taking sedating pain medications.

You will return for a follow-up check-up within a few weeks. During this time, Dr. Dhir will examine the surgery site for signs of infections or complications, and to ensure it is healing well.

Contact Our Office

Major complications after a hydrocelectomy are rare. The procedure is often successful. Another hydrocele may form later on, but this is uncommon (<20% chance). if you are interested in learning more about the procedure, don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Dhir’s office to schedule a consultation today.