Inguinal Hernias & Hydroceles

An inguinal (related to the groin) hernia occurs when a part of the intestine protrudes through a weakened spot in the abdominal muscles and into the groin area, while a hydrocele is a fluid-filled sac in the scrotum (the pouch that holds the testes.) Inguinal hernias are more common in boys than girls and tend to occur more often in premature babies.

 
What causes inguinal hernias and hydroceles?

Inguinal hernias and hydroceles are caused by a malformation of the inguinal canal. Before birth, the inguinal canal connects the abdominal cavity (belly) and a child’s normally descending sexual organs. This channel usually closes before or soon after birth, but if the connection remains open, fluid from the abdominal cavity can be trapped in the scrotum in boys and form a hydrocele.

If the connection is large enough, the intestine may be pushed into this space when a child strains causing a protrusion known as a hernia, which may look like a bulge or a lump in your child’s groin area.

 
How are inguinal hernias and hydroceles treated?

The majority of hydroceles go away by themselves by the time your child is 12 to 18 months old.

However, if your child’s hydrocele is very large, changes in size, or persists, or if the hernia can be seen or felt or causes discomfort in your child, your Nemours pediatric urologist may recommend surgical repair. When the hernia bulges out, it is usually soft and not painful to the touch.

If you notice that your child’s hernia is firm, red or tender, you need to call your doctor right away. With hernias, the intestine can become trapped in the hernial sac and cause serious problems, including injury to the intestines and the blood vessels that supply blood to the testes.

Most inguinal hernia and hydrocele repairs are done on an outpatient basis in the operating room and take about one hour. Your Nemours urologist will explain the surgical procedure to you and answer any questions you may have. Recovery time is generally short and your child may be able to take part in usual play activities in a day or so.

A to Z: Edema

A to Z: Edema

Edema (eh-DEE-mah) is swelling due to the build-up of excess fluid in the body's tissues.

More to Know

Most often edema is found in the hands, arms, feet, ankles, or legs, but it can affect any part of the body, separately or as a whole. Signs of edema include stretched or shiny skin and dimples that remain in the skin after pressing down for 5 seconds.

Many things can cause edema, like sunburn, insect bites and stings, and even some medicines. Certain diseases of the heart, liver, kidneys, and thyroid also can cause edema.

Treatment of edema depends on what's causing it. It may be as simple as taking an antihistamine if due to an allergic reaction. Or, if it's related to the heart or kidney, a doctor might recommend taking a medicine called a diuretic (or water pill) to reduce swelling. Also, wearing support stockings or cutting back on salt intake can help. If another condition, like a liver or thyroid problem, is causing edema, the doctor will treat that, too.

Keep in Mind

Edema can be a temporary nuisance or a sign of a more serious problem. It should be evaluated by a health care provider to determine the cause. If you see signs of edema along with difficulty breathing or chest pain, call 911 or go to the emergency room right away.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.

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Date reviewed: September 26, 2016