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The Importance of Testicular (Scrotal) Ultrasounds

Aug 27, 2021 | Cancer, Mens Heath

What is a testicular ultrasound?

A testicular ultrasound scan is a non-invasive and painless imaging examination, which is used to assess the morphology and vascularisation of the testicles, the epididymides and the spermatic cords. The examination of the scrotum allows to determine the occurrence of pathological lesions, such as varicocele, cysts, or small tumours. In addition, an ultrasound scan of the scrotum is performed when there is a suspicion of a torsion of the testis or testicular appendix.

Why are testicular ultrasounds done?

There are many reasons why this type of ultrasound is performed, these include:

  • Evaluation of or to detect an infection or swelling of the testicles or epididymis 
  • Examination of a mass or a painful area in the testicles
  • Testing for testicular cancer recurrence
  • Diagnosing causes of testicular pain or swelling
  • Checking for twisting of the spermatic cord (cuts off blood supply to the testicles, testicular torsion)
  • Detecting an undescended testicle
  • Locating fluid in the scrotum (hydrocele) e.g. blood in the scrotum (hematocele), fluid in the epididymis (spermatocele), or pus in the scrotum (pyocele)
  • Guiding a testicular biopsy (often carried out when testing fertility)
  • Evaluating and diagnosing trauma or injury to the scrotal area
  • Evaluating the cause of infertility such as a ‘varicocele’

Testicular ultrasounds can help detect whether a lesion is benign or malignant. Although most scrotal lesions are benign, in the rare case that malignancy is suspected, we will ensure you are referred immediately for a biopsy.

What is Testicular Cancer?

As it name suggests, testicular cancer occurs when malignant or cancerous cells form in the tissues of one or both of a man’s testicles. It is important to say that testicular cancer is a relatively rare cancer, with a relatively good prognosis. According to Testicular Cancer UK, testicular cancer has a survival rate of 95%, however it is on the increase and is most common in men aged 15-40. 

It is important to know what is ‘normal’ for you. To check your testicles, simply roll them between your thumb and fingers, and feel for any abnormalities.

Testicular symptoms to look out for include:

  • a lump or swelling in part of one testicle
  • a testicle that gets bigger
  • a heavy scrotum
  • discomfort or pain in your testicle or scrotum

These symptoms can be similar to other conditions that affect the testicles, such as infections. But see a doctor if you have:

  • any of these symptoms
  • symptoms that are unusual for you
  • symptoms that don’t go away or don’t improve

Your symptoms are unlikely to be cancer, but it is important to get them checked, a testicular ultrasound might just save your life.

What to expect during a testicular ultrasound?

Your sonographer will position you lying face-up, but your position may vary to improve the quality of the images. Cover for any areas not being examined will be provided. A warm gel is applied to the area so that the transducer can make secure contact with the skin, by eliminating air bubbles between the transducer and the body. The transducer is moved back and forth over the area until the images are captured. You may be asked to point out an area of concern when prompted. You will experience very little discomfort during a testicular ultrasound; however, if the ultrasound is conducted on a tender area, you may feel slight pressure from the transducer.

References:

Testicular Cancer UK

Cancer Research UK

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