The Basics Of Testicular Ultrasound

"There are several reasons why you might find yourself having a testicular ultrasound ordered by your physician. Men are prone to infertility, impotency, erectile dysfunction and even testicular cancer. Early treatment always leaves you with a greater and faster chance of recovery. Try to have yourself checked and see the internal structures and blood flow to determine potential problems and find necessary treatment right away.

The Equipment

Testicular ultrasound, or sonogram, is a highly safe and effective procedure that uses reflected sound vibrations to create images of the testicles, together with the scrotum. The image will present the coiled tube lying behind each testicle to collect sperm, also known as the epididymis and the vas deferens, the tube that links the prostate gland and the testicles. Radiation is not used in the procedure, making it completely safe.

A handheld instrument called a transducer will be scanning the scrotum back and forth, sending sound vibrations to the computer, which in turn will convert these into clear images displayed on a video monitor. The picture created is called a sonogram, scan or echogram. These can be saved as permanent record for future comparison.

Why the Test May Be Needed

Testicular ultrasound should be done so that doctors can evaluate any testicular masses they palpate during physical examination. If the patient feels pain in the testicles, ultrasound machines are a way to find out more about the concealed problem. The test will also determine if there is testicular torsion, wherein the spermatic cord twists and cuts off blood supply to the testicles. The test can find undescended testicles as well.

Fluids in the epididymis or scrotum, also known as spermatocele and hydrocele respectively, can also be found. The test can also look for pus in the scrotum, or pyocele, and hematocele, or blood in the scrotum. Injury in the genital area and biopsy needle guidance are other cases wherein ultrasound is used.

Final Tips About The Procedure

There are no special preparations or known side effects or risks associated with testicular ultrasound. You will need to sign a consent form before any biopsy is performed. Ask your doctor about all your concerns regarding the test.

It is a quick and painless procedure, lasting no more than 30 minutes.

An ultrasound technologist will do the ultrasound, most likely in the ultrasound room of the clinic or hospital. You will be asked to take your clothes off and lie on your back. Folded towels will be covering the penis and lifting the scrotum for smoother scanning. Gel will be applied on the scrotum for the transducer to move easily along the surface. You may feel the coldness of the gel, or tenderness or pain in highly sensitive areas. Take a deep breath and hold for a matter of seconds during scanning. Afterwards, the gel will be removed and you can put your clothes on again.

You can leave the clinic immediately after the doctor's advice or interpretation of results. You can resume normal activities after the test, since it is a non-invasive procedure. Further diagnostic examinations may be prescribed depending on the results. In most cases, you will only be required to go through the procedure once. If there is a lump or mass in your testicles, a biopsy will be required to find out whether it is benign or malignant.

Follow your doctor's guidelines after the test or for any follow-up procedures as necessary.

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