Hydrocelectomy

Definition :

Hydrocelectomy is a surgical procedure to remove a hydrocele. A hydrocele is collected fluid in the membrane surrounding the testes.

Purpose :

Hydrocelectomy is performed to relieve the pain or reoccurrence of a hydrocele. Normally, hydroceles are not very painful. They tend to be a soft swelling in the membrane surrounding the testes. As the hydrocele grows, the scrotum gets larger. Hydroceles do not damage the testes. The main symptom is scrotal swelling. There are two types of hydroceles depending on how they form. One type is seen in children, generally shortly after birth. It is caused by a failure of the processus vaginalis to close. Usually, surgery isn't used to treat hydrocele until after two years of age because the processus vaginalis frequently closes by itself if given extra time. In adults, hydroceles develop slowly. Most hydroceles develop because of blocked lymphatic flow. Hydroceles also develop after infection, injury, or local cancer tumors. Generally, hydroceles are treated by aspiration of the collected fluid. To do this, a needle is inserted into the scrotum and directed toward the hydrocele. Once there, as much fluid as possible is removed. Hydroceles can reoccur. Rarely, hydroceles grow larger and cause pain. Surgery is used to remove large or painful hydroceles. It is also the recommended procedure to remove hydroceles that reoccur after aspiration. Hydroceles are distinguished from other testicular problems by transillumination and scrotal ultrasound examinations.

Precautions :

No special precautions are required for hydrocelectomy. It is typically performed on an outpatient basis.

Description :

Aspiration of the fluid in a hydrocele is usually successful. However, aspiration may be only a temporary solution because of the potential that the hydrocele will reoccur. Generally, surgical repair of a hydrocele will eliminate the hydrocele. The extent of the surgery depends on whether other factors are present. If the hydrocele is uncomplicated, an incision is made in the scrotum. The hydrocele is cut out, removing the tissues involved in the hydrocele. If there are complications present, such as a hernia, an incision is made in the inguinal (groin) area. This approach allows repair of hernias and other complicating factors at the same time. Patients are placed under general anesthesia for these operations.

Preparation :

A physician or nurse will explain the procedure and, in some cases, the need for a temporary drain to be inserted. The drain lessens the chance of infection and prevents fluid build-up.

Aftercare :

Following surgery, the patient usually only needs a follow-up examination several weeks after the surgery to examine the incision and to check for signs of infection.

Risks :

There is a slight risk of infection and internal hemorrhage as well as a chance of excessive bleeding from the surgical incision.

Normal results :

There may be swelling of the scrotum for up to a month. The patient is able to resume most activities within 7-10 days, although heavy lifting and sexual activities may be delayed for up to six weeks. The hydrocele does not grow back.

Abnormal results :

Swelling that lasts for several months is sometimes a complication of hydrocelectomy. Infection can also occur.