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Hydroceles and Inguinal Hernias

Hydroceles and inguinal (groin) hernias can create problems in males. Normally, testicles develop near scrotum at the end of the pregnancy. For this to occur, a muscle ring in the groin on each side opens to allow the testicle to drop down into the scrotum. With the testicle, the lining of the abdomen also drops down to the scrotum. Mostly, this channel then closes in boys.

In case this channel remains open (or reopens later) fluid can fill the scrotum, causing hydrocele. If the channel is opened wider than normal, then a portion of the intestine passes through the channel into the scrotum, resulting in inguinal hernia.


What are the other causes of Hydroceles and Inguinal Hernia?

Hydrocele develops due to an injury or an inflammation within the scrotum also. Although this condition may resolve by itself in some cases, if not, it requires medical attention.

Hernias also develop if excess pressure is exerted which can force the intestine through a weakened portion of the abdominal wall. This may happen with straining during passing bowels, coughing, sneezing, due to obesity or when lifting excessively heavy weight.


What are the symptoms of Hernia?

Around 1/4th cases of hernia are known to cause significant discomfort or pain. In any case, the hernia can be clearly seen and felt as a bulge between the joint of the thigh and groin.

Premature boys have a higher risk of hernia, while around 1% of normal births also result in this condition. At other times, the intestine may protrude and enter the scrotum, causing pain or swelling in the scrotum.


What are the symptoms of Hydrocele?

Around 10% of male infants are likely to develop hydrocele at birth. Although it seldom causes discomfort or pain, it also usually resolves within the first year of the baby’s life.

In older males, a hydrocele may be painless but it can cause discomfort because of the increase in the scrotum’s size.


What is the treatment for Hernias?

Surgical repair of the open muscle ring is best-suited for hernias. Hernias are not self-repairing and if left untreated may cause severe complications with digestion which requires extensive emergency surgery.

This surgery (for infants and small children) requires a small incision in the groin which is used by the urologist to close the open muscle ring. This is achieved by using sutures or stitches.

In case of adults or teenagers, the doctor will recommend using minimally invasive laparoscope surgical method.


What is the treatment for Hydrocele?

In case the hydrocele is causing significant symptoms (increase in size) then the doctor will advise surgical repair. In case of a simple hydrocele, the surgeon will make a small incision in the scrotum to cut out and remove the hydrocele-causing tissue.

In case of complications (such as hernia), the surgeon will make an incision in the groin (inguinal) region to repair the hernia and the hydrocele simultaneously.


What is prognosis after treatment of Hernias and Hydroceles?

After surgical repair, discomfort is often felt for a few days (at most, a week). This will be relieved through a prescription of mild painkillers. Stressful everyday activity should be avoided at all cost for a few weeks following the surgery.

Infants and small children are advised to avoid tricycles and straddle toys. Swelling may be seen in the scrotum for several weeks but it goes down eventually.
There is less than 1% chance of a hernia or hydrocele returning after a surgical repair.


Frequently asked questions

Are Hernias or Hydroceles hereditary?

Hernias and hydroceles are common but there is no evidence to suggest that these conditions are hereditary.


Are Hernias and Hydroceles caused by a parent’s mistake?

No, there is no evidence to suggest this.


What are the chances of a Hernia developing on both sides?

It mainly depends on the child’s age. Younger children are more likely to develop hernia on the other side as compared to older children. Laparoscope is useful to investigate the other side and see for signs of development of a hernia. In case there are signs of this condition, then the doctor will recommend surgical repair on both sides as a preventive measure.


What are the chances of a Hydrocele developing on both sides?

There is a 5% chance of hydroceles developing on both sides.


Do girls also develop Hydroceles and Hernias?

Girls do not develop hydrocele and as compared to boys are 10 times less likely to develop hernia as well.

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