What is a testicular ultrasound?
A testicular ultrasound is a diagnostic procedure that uses sound waves to produce images of the testicles and surrounding tissues in the scrotum. It’s also known as a scrotal ultrasound or a testicular sonogram. Ultrasound tests are safe, painless and non-invasive procedures. High-frequency sound waves are used to produce images of the organs inside the body.
The doctor suggests this test if the patient has swelling or pain or if a mass is found in the scrotum. These images help to detect cancer or the presence of a cyst or torsion. Ultrasounds are capable of revealing details that an X-ray cannot do, for example, the presence of fluid-filled cysts.
Why does one opt for a testicular ultrasound?
A testicular ultrasound is used to find the abnormalities in the testicles. It is the primary imaging method. It is recommended for the following reasons:
- To determine extent of trauma to the scrotum
- To test if a lump in the scrotum or testicles is solid
- To diagnose the presence of testicular torsion
- To identify the source of pain or swelling in testicles
- To detect the presence of varicose veins with the scrotum
- To determine the location of undescended testicles
Ultrasound tests are also capable of providing real-time still or moving images. The moving image data is used to examine the flow of blood to and from the testicle.
Who performs a testicular ultrasound?
Sonographers are certified to perform a testicular ultrasound. The results from the ultrasound are read and interpreted by a radiologist. They also perform imaging exams like ultrasound-guided biopsies. The radiologist sends a detailed report of the ultrasound to the doctor.
How is the testicular ultrasound performed?
The testicular ultrasound procedure is an outpatient procedure that is often performed in the hospital’s radiology department or at the doctor’s office. It does not take more than 30 minutes to perform the ultrasound. The following steps are involved in a testicular ultrasound:
The patient has to change into a hospital gown and lie on the back with legs spread. The technician will place a towel under the scrotum and keep it elevated. Wide strips of tape are placed across the thighs under the scrotum to keep it elevated. The patient has to lie completely still during the procedure.
A warm, water-based gel is applied to the testicles. This allows the transducer to glide over the area and help in the conduction of sound waves. The technician glides the transducer around the scrotum front and back. The patient feels pressure when it is pushed firmly and discomfort arises if there is tenderness due to abnormalities. Different angles are tried by the technician to obtain images.
What are the possible risks?
There are no risk factors associated with a testicular ultrasound as the body is not exposed to any radiation during the procedure. But there are chances of increased pain or discomfort that indicates an issue in the testicular area such as infection or testicular torsion.
What do the results of testicular ultrasound indicate?
The radiologist analyses the images obtained during the testicular ultrasound and sends a detailed report of the results to the doctor. The findings may be as follows:
- Infection in the testicle
- Testicular tumor and tension
- Benign cyst
If there is a tumor, the doctor will suggest more investigations.
What can you expect after a testicular ultrasound?
The technician wipes off the gel from the body after the procedure. The patient should be able to resume his normal activities after a testicular ultrasound. It does not require any recovery time.