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The Basics of Testicular Ultrasound
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 is Needed
Testicular ultrasound should be done so that doctors can evaluate the mass 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 too. 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.
There are no special preparations or known side effects or risks associated with testicular ultrasound. You will need to sign a consent form before taking a biopsy. 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 ultrasound machines 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 if any follow-up procedure is necessary.
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