Abnormal Fluid Accumulations

Reproductive System

The suffix "-cele" refers to a swelling or noncancerous tumor within a body cavity. Sometimes fluids build up in the scrotum. For example, a hydrocele is a collection of watery fluid in the membrane covering the testicles. A hematocele is a collection of blood that may result after injury to or rupture of a testicle. A spermatocele is a cyst full of sperm that develops next to the epididymis. A varicocele is a mass of varicoselike veins caused by a malfunction of the valves within the veins of the spermatic cord. It has been described as feeling like a "bag of worms." Most often it causes a dull pain or a feeling of heaviness, usually on the left side of the scrotum.

Diagnosis of these conditions can be a simple matter. The doctor may use a special flashlight to shine light through the scrotum. If the light shines through the scrotum, it indicates a possible hydrocele. If light does not pass through the scrotum, it indicates a possible hematocele. A spermatocele lights up under a flashlight in a darkened room. The varicocele usually will not allow light from a flashlight to pass through the scrotum. Diagnosis is confirmed by manual examination or by an ultrasound examination of the scrotum.

These conditions are seldom serious or permanent and may even be painless. But if they continue to enlarge, they become very uncomfortable and may affect fertility. At this point, surgical removal is recommended.

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