Testicular Ultrasound: Why It’s Needed and How It’s Performed

Doctor examining a testicular ultrasound with a patient.

What Is A Testicular Ultrasound?

A testicular ultrasound, or scrotal ultrasound, is a diagnostic test that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of the testicles and surrounding area in the scrotum. The procedure is non-invasive, safe and painless.

A type of probe called a transducer is used to perform an ultrasound. This handheld device emits ultrasonic sound waves as it scans.

An ultrasound technician moves the transducer in sweeping motions against the scrotum. The sound wave echoes bounce off the target area which are then received by the device. These echoes are then processed by a computer to create images on a monitor.

Different types of echoes are transmitted when the tissue is normal compared to when it is abnormal. Radiologists can interpret the resulting imaging to differentiate between benign conditions and solid masses that might potentially be cancerous.

When Is A testicular Ultrasound Needed?

A testicular ultrasound is the main imaging technique used to detect, examine and diagnose abnormalities within the testicles. Some of the reasons that your doctor might want you to have a testicular ultrasound include:

  • To more closely examine an injury to the testicles.
  • To determine whether or not a lump in the scrotum is a cyst or a tumor.
  • In order to see if the spermatic cord has become twisted, a condition known as testicular torsion.
  • To detect the cause of swelling or pain in the testicles
  • So that varicoceles can be detected and evaluated.
  • To identify the exact location of an undescended testicle.

The use of ultrasound testing allows for live imaging, in both moving and still images. Moving image data can be helpful for observing the blood flow to and from the testicles.

Testicular Ultrasound Procedure

A testicular ultrasound can be performed on an outpatient basis in a doctor’s office or at a hospital. The procedure is painless and there is normally no need for sedatives, topical numbing agents or anesthesia.

A typical testicular ultrasound will last not longer than 30 minutes. These are the steps involved in the procedure.

Preparation

It is possible that you will first need to change into a hospital gown before the procedure begins. Next, you’ll lie down on your back with your legs apart.

In order to keep the area elevated, the ultrasound technician might place a towel or other object underneath the scrotum. Additionally, you will also need to remain very still during the procedure .

Imaging

Then, a warm, water-based gel will be applied to your testicles by the technician. This allows the transducer to glide smoothly across the skin. This gel also aids in the conduction of sound waves.

The technician will move the transducer back and forth around your scrotum and place it against you from various angles. The technician may need to apply the transducer firmly, causing you to feel pressure. If you’re experiencing soreness or pain because of an abnormality, you could feel discomfort at this point.

Afterwards

After the procedure, the technician will clean the gel from your skin. You can return to your normal routine and day-to-day activities following a testicular ultrasound. There is no recovery period required.

Getting Your Results

The images from your testicular ultrasound will be analyzed by a radiologist. A report will then be sent to your doctor detailing the results.

A testicular ultrasound might show abnormalities that could indicate any of the following conditions:

If the testicular ultrasound reveals a tumor, your doctor will likely recommend further testing.

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