Natural History and Conservative Treatment Outcomes for Hydroceles: A Retrospective Review of One Center's Experience

Urology. 2018 Feb:112:155-160. doi: 10.1016/j.urology.2017.10.003. Epub 2017 Oct 13.


Objective: To elucidate epidemiological data and hydrocele progression, we reviewed pediatric patients diagnosed with hydroceles in our institution retrospectively.

Materials and methods: We reviewed data from 355 pediatric patients with hydroceles. Questionnaires regarding age at diagnosis, time of delivery, presence of hydroceles in the father and brothers, age at recovery, age at surgery, cause of hydrocele (if present), type of hydrocele, associated pathologies, treatments, and posthydrocelectomy complications were completed by reviewing patients' medical records and interviewing their families.

Results: Patients with congenital hydroceles were more frequently born prematurely (32.5%) than were patients with noncongenital hydroceles (15.9%; P = .001). Fathers of 10 patients (3.7%) and brothers of 21 patients (7.7%) also had hydroceles. Hydroceles were associated with inguinal hernias on the same side (12.2%), cryptorchidism (7.5%), varicoceles (6.0%), and testis torsion (0.5%). Among patients aged >1 year (n = 185), 27 did not undergo operations and healed spontaneously at an average of 5.30 ± 3.36 months. For children aged >1 year who did not undergo surgery, the rate of spontaneous recovery within 6 months was 77.8% and that within 1 year was 96.3%.

Conclusion: Until strong evidence of hydrocele-induced testicular damage in children arises, we recommend following up congenital hydroceles until at least 1 year and preferably 2 years of age. We recommend following up noncongenital hydroceles for at least 6 months and preferably 1 year if there is no associated pathology indicating the need for earlier surgery such as an inguinal hernia, cryptorchidism, tense hydrocele, testis torsion, or testis mass.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Conservative Treatment*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Remission, Spontaneous
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Testicular Hydrocele / diagnosis
  • Testicular Hydrocele / therapy*