A hydrocele happens when fluid collects around one or both testicles. It is not usually painful, but it may be uncomfortable because it makes the scrotum bigger.
Usually, the cause of a hydrocele is unknown. Sometimes hydroceles can result from an injury or infection or, rarely, because of testicular cancer.
Sometimes, the fluid can be removed with a needle and syringe, but surgery is the best way to make sure the hydrocele doesn’t come back.
Hydrocele surgery is usually done under general anaesthesia. This means you will be asleep throughout the procedure and will feel no pain. The operation is usually carried out as a day-case, with no overnight stay.
About the operation
Once the anaesthetic has taken effect, your surgeon makes a small incision in your scrotum. The fluid is drained from around the testicle, and the resulting space is sewn together using dissolvable stitches.
The operation usually lasts about 15 to 20 minutes.
Afterwards, there is likely to be some bruising and swelling of the scrotal area. You may feel aches and twinges in the area for a few weeks or months. Wearing close-fitting underwear day and night for a week or two will help to support your scrotum, ease discomfort and prevent swelling.
Surgery to treat a hydrocele is commonly performed and generally safe. For most people, the benefits are greater than the disadvantages. However, all surgery does carry an element of risk.
Specific complications of this operation are uncommon, but as with any surgery to the scrotum, you may have some temporary difficulty passing urine. A catheter (a tube) may be needed for the first day or so, to drain urine from your bladder into a bag or bottle.
There is a rare chance that the operation causes the spermatic cord to be squeezed too tightly, partially cutting off the blood supply. This could eventually lead to the testicle shrinking.
There is a chance that your hydrocele may come back.
The chance of complications depends on the exact type of operation you are having and other factors such as your general health. Ask your surgeon to explain how these risks apply to you.