Testicle ultrasound

Alternative names
Scrotal ultrasound; Testicular sonogram

Definition

The testicles are the male reproductive organs that produce sperm and the hormone testosterone. They are located in the scrotum (the flesh-covered sac that hangs between the legs at the base of the penis).

Testicle ultrasound is an imaging procedure to examine the testicles and other scrotal structures. The ultrasound machine sends out high-frequency sound waves, which reflect off scrotal structures to create a picture.

There is no ionizing radiation exposure with this test. Ionizing radiation procedures such as X-rays carries a small cancer risk and may damage sperm, but this test does not.

How the test is performed

You will be lying on your back with your legs spread. The health care provider will then drape a cloth or apply wide strips of adhesive tape across your thighs under the scrotum. The scrotal sac will then be slightly elevated with the testicles lying side by side.

A clear, water-based conducting gel is applied to the scrotal sac to help with the transmission of the sound waves. The ultrasound transducer (a handheld probe) is then moved over the scrotum.

How to prepare for the test

Adults:
No special preparation is necessary for this test.

Children:
The physical and psychological preparation you can provide for this or any test or procedure depends on your child’s age, interests, previous experience, and level of trust. For specific information regarding how you can prepare your teen, see adolescent test or procedure preparation (12 to 18 years). This test is seldom performed on children younger than 12.

How the test will feel
There is little discomfort. The conducting gel may feel slightly cold and wet.

Why the test is performed
The ultrasound is done to help determine the cause of testicular enlargement or the reason for testicular pain.

Normal Values

The testicles and other scrotal structures are normal in appearance.

What abnormal results mean

Abnormal results may indicate a benign cyst (an abnormal sac containing fluid), a testicular tumor (abnormal tissue growth which may or may not be cancerous), an area of infection with or without abscess formation, a testicular torsion, or another problem.

What the risks are

There are no documented risks. No ionizing radiation exposure is involved.

Special considerations

In certain instances the use of Doppler ultrasound may be useful to identify blood flow within scrotal structures. For example, this is very helpful in the assessment of testicular torsion.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 8, 2012
by Brenda A. Kuper, M.D.

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