Hydrocele is swelling in the scrotum due to a build-up of fluid around the testicle(s). It occurs in two forms:
- Communicating hydroceles—associated with hernias and are usually seen in baby boys
- Non-communicating hydroceles—collections of fluid around the testicle and may occur at any age
A varicocele is swelling in the scrotum due to a back up of blood in the main veins of the scrotum. Varicoceles are most common among teenagers and adult men.
Not all hydrocele or varicoceles require treatment. However, it is important to see your doctor for a diagnosis if you or your baby boy develops a swelling in the scrotum.
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A communicating hydrocele occurs in babies when a channel that connects the scrotum to the abdomen does not close up properly. This allows fluid to leak into the scrotum.
Non-communicating hydroceles occur when fluid builds up within the tissues that surround the testicle. Hydroceles may also be caused by injury or infection in the scrotal area. It can also be caused by a testicular tumor.
A varicocele is caused by a problem in the main vein of the scrotum. Blood normally leaves the scrotum through the vein. When this vein is not working properly, the blood gets backed up into the scrotum. Varicoceles are rarely caused by kidney tumors, or other tumors in the location of the kidney.
Last reviewedSeptember 2012by Adrienne Carmack, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.