II. Pathophysiology

  1. Collection of peritoneal fluid sorrounding Testicle
    1. Fluid collects between visceral and parietal tunica vaginalis
  2. Types: Infants
    1. Non-Communicating Hydrocele
      1. Hydrocele fluid accumulates in-utero prior to closure of tunica vaginalis
      2. Prior to birth tunica vaginalis closes
      3. After delivery, no further fluid accumulation occurs
      4. Fluid is gradually resorbed by 18-24 months
    2. Communicating Hydrocele
      1. Incomplete obliteration of processus vaginalis
      2. Open communication between peritoneum and tunica vaginalis
      3. Closes spontaneously in the first year of life in most cases
      4. Persistent opening allows for Indirect Inguinal Hernia, Undescended Testicle
  3. Types: Adults
    1. Non-Communicating Hydrocele
      1. Imbalance in secretion vs absorption of tunica
      2. Results from inflammatory reaction (typically idiopathic)
        1. Injury (may result in hematocele, blood collection, which does not transilluminate)
        2. Infection (e.g. Filariasis causes lymphatic obstruction)
        3. Testicular Tumor
        4. Testicular Torsion

III. Symptoms

  1. Painless Scrotal Swelling
  2. Small and soft on arising in the morning
  3. Becomes large and tense as the day progresses
  4. Large amounts of fluid may interfere with intercourse

IV. Signs

  1. Nontender Scrotal Swelling anterior to Testis and cord
  2. Translucent fluid on transillumination (allows light transmission)
  3. Scrotal Swelling is not reducible (unlike Inguinal Hernia)
  4. Overlying scrotal skin may have bluish tint

V. Differential Diagnosis

VI. Imaging: Scrotal Ultrasound Indications (Adults)

  1. Raised suspicion for Testicular Tumor
    1. New onset Hydrocele
    2. Hydrocele that Hemorrhages after only mild Trauma
    3. Right sided Hydrocele (90% are on left)

VII. Management

  1. Infant
    1. See Communicating Hydrocele
  2. Adult (Non-Communicating Hydrocele)
    1. Aspirate fluid - may help to better palpate Testicle for masses
    2. Surgery indicated only for:
      1. Discomfort from bulky mass
      2. Tense Hydrocele leading to Testicle atrophy

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