A hydrocelectomy is a surgical procedure to repair a hydrocele, which is a buildup of fluid around a testicle. Often a hydrocele will resolve itself without treatment. However, as a hydrocele grows larger, it can cause swelling, pain, and discomfort in the scrotum and may need surgical repair. A hydrocelectomy removes the fluid and shrinks the size of the sac formerly containing the fluid.

Hydroceles are very common in male children, particularly newborns. They also occur in about 1 percent of adult men, typically after age 40.

Who should consider hydrocelectomy?

A hydrocele can form in your scrotum but not bother you much or cause any medical problems. You can try taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain relievers and wait to see if the swelling subsides. Often it will go away on its own within six months.

If the hydrocele gets large enough, it may need repair. Symptoms that suggest you may need to consider surgery include:

  • swelling on one side of the scrotum
  • pain in one or both testicles
  • uncomfortable heaviness from enlargement of the scrotum

Preparing for surgery

Before surgery, you’ll have standard preoperative blood and urine tests. A doctor or nurse will explain how the surgery works and whether the surgeon will have to implant a tube to drain fluids for a short time after the surgery. This helps to prevent infection and buildup of fluid in the scrotum after surgery.

Make sure to tell your doctor about all medications and dietary supplements you take, including herbal supplements. Some of these can impair your natural clotting function and cause bleeding. Your doctor also needs to know if you are allergic to any medications or have experienced problems with excessive bleeding.

A few days before the surgery, you should stop taking medications that could affect blood clottings, such as aspirin (Bufferin), warfarin (Coumadin), and clopidogrel (Plavix).

Follow your doctor’s instructions for eating and drinking. It’s likely you’ll be told not to drink or eat at least six hours before the surgery.