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Why treat a scrotal hydrocele?
A hydrocele is a collection of fluid in the scrotum that causes swelling, which is soft and often painless. The swelling however may be uncomfortable, unsightly and painful during intercourse or physical activity. A hydrocele is diagnosed by ultrasound, which can be done in the office.
It is a common condition in newborns but can occur in people of all ages, including in 1% of adult males over 40.1 In adults, hydroceles develop slowly, usually as a result of either of a defect that causes overproduction of fluid, or blockage of lymphatic flow. Hydroceles may also develop as a result of inflammation, infection or trauma.
Am I a candidate for hydrocele sclerotherapy?
If the hydrocele becomes too large or causes a level of discomfort then treatment maybe recommended. The first step is a diagnosis, which can be done by an ultrasound in the office. Our doctor is a board certified imaging specialist in addition to specializing in minimally invasive procedures and will perform the diagnostic ultrasound during your visit. Generally, the consultation and treatment can be done on the same visit.
Our image-guided specialist sees patients throughout the Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego areas. Contact us today.
There are two types of treatments for hydroceles: surgery and sclerotherapy.
Hydrocele Aspiration & Sclerotherapy
Sclerotherapy was first reported in 1975 as a treatment alternative for hydroceles with no downtime.5 Sclerotherapy is an outpatient procedure performed in the office that involves removing the fluid collection through a small tube followed by injection of a medication (sclerotherapy) that helps close the cavity containing the fluid. Our specialist applies a topical and local anesthetic and also performs a nerve block to make the procedure essentially pain-free. There is no downtime and you will walk out of the office after the procedure with a band-aid.
While we don't perform surgery you should understand and be informed of the surgical option. Surgery continues to be the most common method of treatment for a symptomatic hydrocele.2 During the surgery, the surgeon will make an incision in your scrotum and drain the fluid from around the testicle. The space will then be sutured together. Recovery from surgery can take up to 5 days and you will be provided medication for pain management. Surgical complications include prolonged pain, recurrence, hematoma, infection and injury to the scrotal contents including the testicle, epididymis and/or vas deferens.3 In one study 40% of the patients undergoing surgical hydrocelectomy experienced postoperative complications including edema, hematoma, infection and cellulitis.4
What is the right treatment for me?
If you’ve been diagnosed with a scrotal hydrocele it’s important to gain at least a basic understanding of your treatment options. Every approach to treatment has its pros and cons. Ultimately, the treatment you choose will depend on what your doctor recommends and what feels best to you. Some patients obtain surgery while others prefer a non-surgical option such as sclerotherapy, and only seek surgery if the treatment is not effective for them.
You should seek the expert advice of your urologist and interventional radiologist to further understand your options and expected outcomes.
Our interventional specialist has performed over 5,000 ultrasound and image-guided procedures. While most hydrocele aspirations are done blindly, you can rest assured that your experience will be painless at CVI as the procedure is performed with precision with ultrasound guidance by our specialist.
Can't I just have aspiration to remove the hydrocele fluid?
Aspiration alone will not be sufficient. If your specialist only removes the fluid it will only be a matter of time that the hydrocele will return causing your symptoms again. Sclerotherapy is important as it closes the cavity, preventing the fluid from returning.
Our specialist performs the aspiration first using ultrasound-guidance, which shows precisely the location of the needle so that the testicle does not get punctured minimizing risks. Make sure that the specialists performing this procedure is trained in ultrasound-guided procedures.
Sclerotherapy is a non-surgical treatment for scrotal hydroceles that is safe and effective. There are no stitches, major incisions or downtime. You walk out of the office after the treatment. The success rate of a single hydrocele aspiration and sclerotherapy procedure is 75-84% after one treatment, while avoiding the hospital expense and many other complications of surgery.6,7 Surgical hydrocelectomy by comparison has a similar success rate of 84% in one study.4
Large hydroceles would require multiple treatment sessions. Hydroceles due to tumor, infection, hernia and certain types of hydroceles would not be appropriate candidates for this treatment.
Consultations are available via an online video telehealth platform or in person at one of the offices in Los Angeles, Orange County or San Diego. Why should you choose us? Read here.
1. Leung ML, Gooding GA and Williams RD: Highresolution sonography of scrotal contents in asymptomatic subjects. AJR Am J Roentgenol 1984; 143: 161.
2. Lord PH: A bloodless operation for the radical cure of idiopathic hydrocele. Br J Surg 1964; 51: 914.
3. Swartz MA, Morgan TM and Krieger JN: Complications of scrotal surgery for benign conditions. Urology 2007; 69: 616.
4. Beiko DT, Kim D and Morales A: Aspiration and sclerotherapy versus hydrocelectomy for treatment of hydroceles. Urology 2003; 61: 708.
5. Moloney GE: Comparison of results of treatment of hydrocele and epididymal cysts by surgery and injection. Br Med J 1975; 3: 478.
6. Levine LA and DeWolf WC: Aspiration and tetracycline sclerotherapy of hydroceles. J Urol 1988; 139: 959.
7. Francis JJ, Levine LA: Aspiration and sclerotherapy: a nonsurgical treatment option for hydroceles. J Urol. 2013 May;189(5):1725-9. doi: 10.1016/j.juro.2012.11.008. Epub 2012 Nov 6.
The above information explains what is involved and the possible risks. It is not meant to be a substitute for informed discussion between you and your doctor, but can act as a starting point for such a discussion.