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During the seventh month of fetal development, the testicles move from the abdomen into the scrotum. When the testicle travels downward, it brings a sac with it. The sac allows fluid to surround the testicle. This sac usually closes before birth, and the fluid is absorbed in the body.
When the sac closes, but fluid stays in the scrotum, the hydrocele is called non-communicating or closed. This type of hydrocele is often found in newborns. In most cases, the fluid is absorbed by your son's body and goes away in time. It may take up to one year for this to happen.
If your son is older and has this kind of hydrocele, it may indicate other problems, such as infection, torsion (twisting of the testicles) or a tumor.
When the sac does not close, the hydrocele is called communicating or open. This means that the fluid around the testicle can flow back up into the abdomen. You might notice that the hydrocele looks smaller early in the day and larger in the evening. This may be due to your child being upright all day. It may also look smaller when your son's doctor presses on his scrotum, as the pressure may cause the fluid to flow back into the abdomen.
Hydroceles are not harmful to the testicles in any way and they don't cause your son any pain.
Sometimes, however, if the sac remains open, a loop of intestine can push through the opening. If your son's scrotum suddenly appears very large and hard, and he will not stop crying, call the doctor right away. Your son may need immediate attention.
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”