Hydrocele in the Newborn

Closeup of baby's penis and scrotum showing testicle inside. Large sac of fluid (hydrocele) is inside scrotum and enlarging it.

Hydrocele is a problem that sometimes happens to baby boys. It occurs when abdominal fluid builds up in the groin or in the scrotum near the testicles. This could happen because the baby’s abdominal wall wasn’t fully developed at birth. Or, there may be an opening between the abdomen and scrotum that didn’t close as it should have after birth.

When is a hydrocele treated?

Hydrocele often goes away by itself, as the body slowly absorbs the abdominal fluid. In some cases, though, surgery is needed. The hydrocele will be treated if:

  • The amount of fluid increases, making the scrotum large and firm.

  • The fluid isn’t absorbed within the baby’s first 6 months of life.

  • The baby also has a hernia (loop of bowel) extending into the same area.

What are the long-term effects?

After the hydrocele goes away or is treated, lasting problems are rare.

Signs of a problem

If you see any of these signs, alert your baby’s healthcare provider:

  • The hydrocele gets bigger

  • Your baby cries more than normal and can’t be consoled

  • Your baby cries or fusses when you touch the hydrocele