Aim: The presentation, and medical and surgical management of all new onset non-congenital hydroceles in boys older than 1 year of age were examined. Of particular interest was the outcome of those patients who presented with a non-communicating hydrocele that developed after the first year of life and was managed conservatively.
Methods: All patients older than 12 months of age who were evaluated as outpatients with the diagnosis of hydrocele from January 1994 to January 2001 were identified. Possible risk factors and predisposing conditions were determined. For the patients who had surgical correction, surgical indications were identified. For non-surgical patients, long-term outcomes were recorded.
Results: A total of 302 patients older than 12 months of age with the diagnosis of new onset hydrocele were identified. Of these, 35% were non-communicating, 59% were communicating, and 6% were hydroceles of the spermatic cord. In terms of surgery, 97% of communicating hydroceles, 71% of hydroceles of the spermatic cord, and 34% of non-communicating hydroceles had operative management. Seventy patients with non-communicating hydroceles did not receive surgery and 51 (73%) were contacted for long term follow-up. In these 51 patients, 76% of non-communicating hydroceles resolved completely, 6% decreased in size but were still present, 14% remained the same size, and 4% had an unknown status. The average time to resolution was 5.6 months with a median time of 3 months. The time range to resolution was from 1 day to 24 months. Follow-up averaged 73.7 months with a range of 33 to 120 months.
Conclusions: Approximately 75% of new onset, non-congenital, non-communicating hydroceles resolve spontaneously irrespective of size. An observation period of 6-12 months would be appropriate prior to repair.