What Is Transillumination?
Transillumination is a test used to identify abnormalities
in an organ or body cavity. The test is performed in a dark room, with a bright
light shined at a specific body part to see the structures beneath the skin.
The test is simple and easy, and offers a quick way for your
doctor to check your body or organs. It’s also completely painless and requires
no special preparation. If your doctor sees something wrong, they will order
more tests to make a complete diagnosis.
Why Is Transillumination Performed?
Transillumination can help diagnose certain medical
conditions. However, it’s most often used with along with other procedures to
confirm a diagnosis. For example, it may be used with other imaging tests, such
as an ultrasound or MRI, and may precede a biopsy.
Certain conditions may be visible with transillumination,
- cysts or lesions in a woman’s breast
- spermatocele, a cyst that develops in the coiled
tube of the upper testicle
- a collapsed lung in newborn babies
- hydrocele, an opening between the scrotum and
the peritoneal cavity in newborn males
- hydrocephalus, a fluid accumulation in the brain
of an infant
- hydranencephaly, the absence of brain matter in
- cracked teeth
- diseases of the eye
affects premature babies. The hole between the scrotum and peritoneal cavity
does not close on its own and fluid leaks out around the testicles. The hole
may eventually close on its own or may require surgical repair.
be genetic or the result of an infection. The goal of treatment is to drain
fluid from around the brain. Shunts may be placed in the brain to drain excess
fluid. Hydrocephalus can be fatal if left untreated.
a rare and fatal disorder in which an infant is born without a portion of its
brain. Most babies die within a few days or weeks of birth. The cause of this
condition is unknown.
Transillumination of teeth can identify fractures,
especially after restorations are removed.
Transillumination is used to check for various diseases in
the eye, including cysts and tumors. It’s also useful in checking your iris and
the overall health of your eyes.
Your doctor will dim the lights in the exam room to perform
the transillumination test. They’ll place a bright light very close to the body
part being examined, such as the breast, scrotum, head, or chest. The
combination of lighted areas, dark spots, and colors that appear can help your
doctor determine if more testing is needed.
The area being tested will light up brightly if air, fluid,
or non-solid masses such as cysts are present. The absence of an organ will
allow light to pass through the skin and will also appear bright. Solid masses
will appear dark and normal.
Your doctor will notify you if the results show any
abnormalities. They’ll schedule you for further testing to confirm the
Transillumination offers a quick and simple way to check
your organs and body for abnormalities. Keep in mind that transillumination is
a first step and is used in conjunction with other tests. If transillumination
yields abnormal results, your doctor will order more tests to confirm a