• Definition

    A hydrocele is a fluid-filled sack along the spermatic cord within the scrotum.

    Alternative Names

    Processus vaginalis; Patent processus vaginalis

    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    Hydroceles are common in newborn infants.

    During normal development, the testicles descend down a tube from the abdomen into the scrotum. Hydroceles result when this tube fails to close. Fluid drains from the abdomen through the open tube. The fluid builds up in the scrotum, where it becomes trapped. This causes the scrotum to become swollen.

    Hydroceles normally go away a few months after birth, but their appearance may worry new parents. Occasionally, a hydrocele may be associated with an inguinal hernia.

    Hydroceles may also be caused by inflammation or injury of the testicle or epididymis, or by fluid or blood blockage within the spermatic cord. This type of hydrocele is more common in older men.