Hydrocele repair

Alternative names

Hydrocele repair involves surgical correction of a birth defect in which there is an open passageway between the abdomen and the scrotum. This causes fluid collection around the testicle called a hydrocele.


A hydrocele is a fluid collection that surrounds the testicle. Typically, it can be detected by shining a light through the area (transillumination). This passageway between the peritoneum (abdominal cavity) through the inguinal canal to the scrotum usually closes after birth. If it does not, fluid from the peritoneum enters into the scrotum, causing swelling of the scrotum.

While the patient is unconscious and pain-free (general anesthesia), an incision is made just above the groin. The open communication between the abdominal cavity and scrotum is repaired, the fluid is removed from the scrotum, and the incision is closed. In some circumstances, the procedure can be done laparoscopically (video-assisted surgery, which makes use of smaller incisions for faster healing).

Repair is recommended for hydrocele that persists past the first 6 to 12 months of life.

Risks for any anesthesia include the following:

  • Reactions to medications  
  • Problems breathing

Risks for any surgery include the following:

  • Bleeding  
  • Infection

Expectations after surgery
The success rate for hydrocele repair is very high. The long-term prognosis is excellent.

The surgery is done on an outpatient basis with prompt recovery expected. The child should be encouraged to rest at intervals for the first few days after surgery. He should be able to return to normal activity within about 4 to 7 days.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 4, 2012
by Amalia K. Gagarina, M.S., R.D.

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