What is a Hydrocele Repair?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A hydrocele repair is a surgical procedure performed to address a hydrocele, a buildup of fluid in the testicle. Hydroceles can occur congenitally in children, and they can also emerge in adult men, in which case the fluid may be associated with a herniation, inflammation, or underlying disease processes. Sometimes, girls are born with hydroceles due to abnormalities which occur during development.

Hydrocele testis occurs when fluid fills the sac that surrounds a testicle.
Hydrocele testis occurs when fluid fills the sac that surrounds a testicle.

This procedure is usually performed by a urologist with the assistance of an anesthesiologist, and may be done on an outpatient basis. Depending on the patient's age and condition, a hydrocele repair may be done under local, regional, or general anesthesia. The procedure starts with an incision to drain the hydrocele and pull the surrounding sac out of the testicle. The sac may be removed or replaced, depending on the case, and then stitches are placed.

Hydrocele testis is not painful and usually goes away on its own.
Hydrocele testis is not painful and usually goes away on its own.

In children, a hydrocele sometimes goes away independently. Surgery will be recommended if it is causing discomfort or if there are concerns that the hydrocele may be part of a more serious congenital anomaly. In men, hydroceles need to be repaired because they cannot be resolved on their own. If a hydrocele becomes recurrent, it can be a sign that a hernia or another underlying process is happening and also needs to be addressed.

Also known as a hydrocelectomy, a hydrocele repair is a relatively simple procedure, but it does carry some risks. Patients can react adversely to anesthesia, and if placed under a general anesthesia, there is a risk that the lungs will be compromised. The patient can also develop an infection, especially if the surgical site is not treated carefully during home care. The hydrocele can also recur after the surgery. Rarely, complications from this surgery to correct swelling in the testes can include impairment of reproductive function, although this risk can be greatly reduced by using an experienced and competent surgeon.

If a hydrocele repair is recommended for a child, parents are often advised to talk about the procedure with the child before hand, so that he or she knows what to expect. The surgical team may be willing to have the parent sit with the patient while anesthesia is induced so that the child sees a familiar face and feels comfortable, and may make arrangements to have a parent on hand in the recovery room as soon as the patient wakes up. Parents may also find that their children are less worried about the hydrocele repair procedure when they meet the members of the surgical team beforehand and have a chance to ask questions.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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