Before birth, the testicle descends from the abdominal cavity to the scrotum, along an open channel that usually closes by the time a child is born. Girls also have this open channel. If the channel does not close, a hernia or hydrocele may develop. A hernia occurs when a piece of the intestine slides into the channel. If the channel is more narrow, only fluid from the abdominal cavity can filter down, which may surround the testicle in the scrotum, a condition known as a hydrocele.
Hernia: A hernia can be a serious problem at any age because it can cause the intestine to become trapped (called an incarcerated hernia) or lose its blood supply (a strangulated hernia). Therefore, it’s best to fix a hernia as an elective surgery soon after it is diagnosed. Incarcerated or strangulated hernias may require emergency surgery.
Hydrocele: Hydroceles are very common in newborn boys, and may change in size as normal abdominal fluid flows in and out of them. They may be very large, although they do not cause any injury to the testicle. Since the channel is usually narrower than with a hernia, it may close by itself in the first three to six months of life. As it closes, the fluid in the hydrocele “sac” will often gradually be reabsorbed by the body.