Decision making in the management of hydroceles in infants and children
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The aim of this article was to establish a ground for evidence-based decision making in dealing with hydroceles, according to the age of the child and the presenting signs and symptoms. This prospective cohort study was conducted at Al-Kademyia Teaching Hospital in Baghdad, Iraq, during the period from December 2001 to December 2005. There were two groups of patients: group 1 involved 121 patients that presented with hydroceles at less than 1 year of age that were followed up to their first birthday to monitor the fate of hydroceles. Group 2 involved 140 patients, 1–12 years of age, who presented with hydroceles and had surgery. Their age, the affected side, diurnal changes in size, and the findings at surgery were recorded. In group 1, 89% of patients with hydroceles had spontaneous resolution or showed marked improvement during the first year of life and only 11% required an operation. The indications for surgery were the presence of an associated inguinal hernia (7%) and development of a huge hydrocele (3%). In group 2, 83% of patients with hydroceles presented within the first 5 years of age. Diurnal changes in the size of hydroceles were encountered in 92% of cases. Conclusion: 89% of patients with infantile hydrocele will have a spontaneous resolution owing to the ongoing changes in the patent processus vaginalis. Surgical intervention in the first year of life is only required for those who have an associated inguinal hernia and for those with hydroceles that become huge in size.