HYDROCELE. -An accumulation of water between the testis and the surrounding layers. This condition may cause serious swellings, and is very trying to the patient. The disease may be either congenital or acquired. When acquired it frequently results from external injuries to the testicle, as from a knock or a blow.
Congenital hydrocele in young children is easily removed by making an incision and draining off the water. In some cases this treatment must be repeated several times before a cure is effected. In adults an incision is not always sufficient in the treatment of hydrocele, as the water continues to gather. In such cases splitting of the tunics will prove effectual. This operation is absolutely without danger.
HYDROCEPHALUS.---Dropsy of the brain ; a condition characterised by a morbid accumulation of fluid between the membranes or within the ventricles of the brain. This disease is either congenital, or it arises during the first years of life. The constantly growing pressure exerted by the water upon the brain and skull results in a wasting of the substance of the brain and in enlargement of the circumference of the skull. Children thus affected
remain bodily and mentally undeveloped. They scarcely learn how to talk ; they are affected by spasms and muscular twitchings ; and most of them die during the first months or years of life. Attempts have been made to remove the fluid operatively, by puncture of the skull ; but at best this operation has been attended with only temporary success.
Dropsy of the brain must not be confused with that form of enlargement of the skull which occurs in rickets. The deformed, shaking head, with the small trunk, crippled limbs, and idiotic facial expression, so characteristic of patients suffering from dropsy of the brain, is absent in rickets. An illustra tion will be found under IMBECILITY (Fig. 235). Acute dropsy of the brain is another name for acute cerebrospinal meningitis.