Is a Testicular Ultrasound?
A testicular ultrasound is a diagnostic test that obtains images
of the testicles and the surrounding tissues in your scrotum. Ultrasound is
also called sonography or ultrasound scanning. Your doctor may refer to a testicular
ultrasound as a testicular sonogram or scrotal ultrasound.
The two testicles are the primary male reproductive organs. They
produce sperm and the male sex hormone testosterone. Your testicles are in your
scrotum, which is the fleshy pouch of tissue that hangs under your penis.
An ultrasound is a safe, painless, and noninvasive procedure. The
procedure uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of organs inside
An ultrasound uses a probe or transducer. This handheld device
converts energy from one form to another. It pushes energy against the targeted
part of your body in sweeping motions. The transducer emits sound waves as it
moves across your body. The transducer then receives the sound waves as they
bounce off your organs in a series of echoes. A computer processes the echoes
into images on a video monitor. Normal and abnormal tissue transmit different
types of echoes. A radiologist can interpret the echoes to distinguish between
benign and malignant types of tumors.
Do I Need a Testicular Ultrasound?
A testicular ultrasound is the primary imaging method used to
observe and diagnose abnormalities in the testicles. Your doctor may recommend
a testicular ultrasound to:
- verify whether a lump in your scrotum or
testicles is solid, which can indicate a tumor, or filled with fluid, which can
indicates a cyst
- determine the outcome of trauma to your scrotum
- evaluate for possible testicular torsion, which
is a twisted testicle
- identify sources of pain or swelling in your
- detect for and evaluate varicoceles, which are
varicose spermatic veins
- assess the causes of infertility
- find the location of an undescended testicle
Ultrasound echoes can provide real-time still or moving images.
Data from moving images is useful in examining blood flow to and from your
Each testicle connects to the rest of your body by a spermatic
cord. This tube contains an artery and a vein. The tube also includes the vas
deferens, which carries sperm from the testicles to the urethra. Your doctor
can study blood flow in your testicles to find narrowing or blockages interfering
with the flow of semen and hindering fertility.
Are the Risks Involved with a Testicular Ultrasound?
A testicular ultrasound won’t put you at risk for any health problems.
There’s no radiation exposure during the procedure. However, you may have
increased pain or discomfort during the procedure if you have certain
testicular issues, such as testicular torsion or an infection.
Do I Prepare for a Testicular Ultrasound?
Typically, there’s no special preparation necessary for a testicular
ultrasound. There’s no need for dietary restrictions, fasting, or a full
bladder before the exam.
Speak with your doctor about any prescription or over-the-counter
medications you take. There rarely is a need to interrupt or discontinue
medication before a testicular ultrasound.
Is a Testicular Ultrasound Performed?
A testicular ultrasound is usually an outpatient procedure performed
in the radiology department of a hospital or at your doctor’s office.
Typically, a testicular ultrasound takes about 20 to 30 minutes.
It involves the following steps.
You may need to change into a hospital gown. You won’t typically
receive sedatives, anesthesia, or topical numbing agents.
You’ll lie on your back with your legs spread. The ultrasound technician
may place a towel underneath your scrotum to keep it elevated. They may place
wide strips of tape across your thighs and under your scrotum to elevate your
You’ll need to lie completely still during the procedure.
The technician will apply a warm, water-based gel to your
testicles. This gel will allow the transducer to glide over your body. It also
facilitates the conduction of the sound waves.
The technician will glide the transducer around your scrotum,
moving back and forth. You may feel pressure as the technician pushes it firmly
against your body. You may feel discomfort if there’s pressure on an area where
you have tenderness due to an abnormality.
The technician will position the transducer against your body
from different angles.
After the Procedure
The technician will wipe the gel off your body after the
After your testicular ultrasound, you can resume your normal
activities and diet. No recovery time is necessary.
Do the Results Mean?
A radiologist will analyze the images obtained during your testicular
ultrasound. They’ll then send a report detailing the results of the test to
If there are abnormal findings on your testicular ultrasound,
they may indicate:
- an infection in your testicle
- a benign cyst
- a testicular torsion, which is a twisted
spermatic cord restricting blood flow to your testicle
- a testicular tumor
- a hydrocele, which is a benign collection of
fluid around your testicle
- a spermatocele, which is a fluid-filled cyst on
the ducts of your testicle
- a varicocele, which is an enlarged vein in the
spermatic cord of your testicle
Your doctor will probably recommend further investigation if the
testicular ultrasound identifies a tumor.
An open surgical procedure called a radical inguinal orchiectomy
is the standard method for testicular cancer diagnosis. The procedure involves removing
the affected testicle through an incision in your groin. A biopsy is a procedure
done to remove tissue to test if it’s cancerous or not. It can actually spread
the cancer cells even more. Removing the testicle is the standard method
because testicular tumors are often cancerous.
After the radical inguinal orchiectomy, your doctor will take and
examine tissue samples to check for cancer. This can often be done as an
outpatient procedure, which means won’t need to stay at the hospital overnight.