A hydrocele happens when there is a collection of fluid in one or both testicles. It is not usually painful but can be uncomfortable as it makes the scrotum bigger. The cause of a hydrocele is usually unknown, but it can be a result of 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 does not come back.
Hydrocele surgery is usually done under general anaesthesia as a day-case. During the procedure the surgeon will make a small incision in the patients scrotum, the fluid is then drained from around the testicle, and the resulting space is sewn together using dissolvable stiches. The procedure usually lasts fifteen to twenty minutes.
Patients may experience some bruising and swelling of the scrotal area after the procedure, and feel aches and twinges for a few weeks or months. Wearing close-fitting underwear day and night for a week or two weeks will help support the scrotum, ease discomfort and prevent swelling.
Surgery to treat a hydrocele is commonly performed and generally considered to be a safe operation. For most people, the benefits are greater than the disadvantage however all surgery does carry an element of risk. Specific complications of this operation are uncommon, but as with any surgery to the scrotum, the patient may have some temporary difficulty passing urine. A catheter may be needed for the first day or so, to drain urine from the 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.
The consultant will discuss with the patient in detail the risks of this surgery.