Healthy Living

What Is Hydrocele Repair?

What Is Hydrocele Repair?

Key Takeaways

  • Hydrocele repair can be done through open surgery, laparoscopic surgery, and needle aspiration.
  • In needle aspiration, only the fluid is drained, leaving the sac that holds the fluid. 
  • Hydrocele repair is necessary for hydroceles that fail to normalize on their own. 

Hydrocele repair is a surgical process that aims to correct the swelling of the scrotum that occurs as a result of hydroceles. A hydrocele is a painless buildup of fluid around the testicles. Fluid buildup causes the scrotum and the groin area to swell. This swelling can make you uncomfortable even if it doesn’t cause any pain. Hydroceles are very common in male newborns though they can occur at an older age.

If your newborn has a hydrocele, it is likely to go away on its own within a one year. If the problem doesn’t go away on its own and it becomes very large, it will need surgery or repair. In adults, hydroceles will go away in less than six months. In case the condition doesn’t go away on its own, it may require surgery to prevent it from becoming a hernia.

Reasons I Should Have A Hydrocele Repaired

You will need your hydrocele repaired if you have symptoms such as:

  • Scrotum fullness
  • Scrotum heaviness

Having hydroceles is generally not dangerous. However, if the condition doesn’t go away, your doctor may recommend surgery.

The surgery is recommended if the hydrocele:

  • Is infected
  • Becomes very large
  • Becomes painful and makes you uncomfortable
  • Causes complications in your scrotal blood flow
  • Causes or occurs with a hernia

How Is a Hydrocele Repaired?

You don’t necessarily need surgery to repair hydroceles since they may go away with time and on their own. If a period of six-twelve months has passed and the hydrocele does not resolve on its own, there is a need to repair it. The surgery takes about one hour and is usually an outpatient process. This means that the patient can leave for home the same day of the operation.

How do I prepare for hydrocele repair surgery?

Before the operation, you will be provided written instructions about the hospital appointment and the whole surgical procedure. These are among the most important reminders with regard to preparing for the procedure:

  • You should not eat or drink anything six hours before the surgery. Unless you are instructed otherwise by your doctor, you should take any medications with only a sip of water in the morning of the operation.
  • In case you are taking anticoagulants or blood-thinning drugs such as aspirin, you should stop taking them one week before the operation. If you don’t stop taking the blood-thinning medications, your operation will be cancelled.
  • You should organize and bring a responsible adult with you. He or she will drive or take you home after the operation.
  • You will be given a chance to ask your doctor any questions before the operation.
  • Just like any other type of surgery, you will be required to sign a consent form to make sure that you understand all about hydrocele repair, all it entails, and its side effects.

Your preparation matters a lot as to how effective the procedure will be. Make sure you follow all the instructions carefully to avoid any complications associated with the procedure.

During the procedure

Before the actual surgical procedure to repair a hydrocele, an anesthesiologist will inject you with general anesthesia to keep you asleep throughout the procedure. General anesthesia ensures that the whole surgical procedure will be pain-free.

In a newborn baby or child:

  • The doctor makes a small incision in the fold of the scrotum, and then drains all the fluid. The doctor may also remove the sac holding the fluid. The muscle wall of the scrotum is then strengthened with stitches in a process known as hernia repair.
  • In some cases, your doctor may prefer to use a laparoscope for the procedure. A laparoscope is a tiny gadget with a camera at the end that your surgeon will insert through an incision. The camera is connected to a computer screen to make sure that the surgeon sees every part of your scrotum during the surgery. The repair for your hydrocele is done by use of instruments that are inserted through other small incisions or surgical cuts.

In adults, an incision is made in the skin of the scrotum to help remove the fluid and also surgically remove the sac filled with the fluid.

Needle aspiration can also be used to repair a hydrocele but mainly in adults. In needle aspiration, only the fluid is drained, leaving the sac that holds the fluid. In some cases, an injection of a drug is used to prevent the sac from filling up again. This procedure is performed on adult men who may be at a high risk for complications if open surgery is undertaken. The most common risk of this procedure is pain and the risk of bacterial infection. The needle aspiration procedure is considered ultimately ineffective since the problem will always come back.

Recovering from Hydrocele Repair

You will feel better by the evening of the surgery or the morning after. If the patient is a child, he should avoid riding a bike, climbing, and straddling toys. An oral pain reliever should be administered to reduce pain in the wound. The parents of the child should take care of the sutures closing the wound to make sure they fall off on their own.

Risks of Hydrocele Repair

The whole procedure rarely has serious complications. However, just like any other type of surgical procedure, the surgery to repair a hydrocele can carry the following complications:

  • Hematoma - This is characterized by blood collecting in the scrotal sac. This complication will usually settle on its own, although 1% of patients will need a second operation to collect the blood.
  • Infection - If you get a fever after hydrocele repair, you likely have an infection that should be treated. Treatment of an infection like this requires over-the-counter antibiotics.
  • Hydrocele recurrence - Hydroceles recurring after repair through surgery has been observed in about 5 percent of patients.
  • Difficulty when passing urine or urine retention - This is another complication observed after hydrocele repair. This problem may be caused by anesthesia used during the surgical procedure. This complication goes away with time.
  • Allergic reaction- Allergic reactions occur due to medications used during the operation such as anesthesia. The risk of allergic an reaction is low but there is a need to inform your doctor about any previous allergic reactions to food or medications before hydrocele repair.

Bottom Line

Hydrocele repair is any of several medical procedures that may be used to correct a hydrocele by draining the fluid in the scrotum and the sac containing the fluid. Repairing a hydrocele is necessary if it fails to normalize after six-twelve months. The repair can be done through open surgery, laparoscopic surgery, or needle aspiration.