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Scrotal Ultrasound

Scrotal ultrasounds are diagnostic imaging tests used to examine the testes and surrounding tissue for evidence of trauma, infection, or damage.

An ultrasound is a simple, diagnostic tool that doctors use to take a look inside your body. Ultrasounds use high-frequency sound waves to show doctors your internal organs and structures in real-time, helping them detect conditions like blood clots, gallstones, cancer, and more. Ultrasounds are a form of diagnostic imaging, just like x-rays or CT scans.

From physical therapists to obstetricians/gynecologists (OB/GYN), all kinds of healthcare providers use ultrasound imaging to diagnose and treat their patients. You may sometimes hear doctors call ultrasounds “sonography” or “sonograms.” These terms are interchangeable with “ultrasound”.

Scrotal ultrasounds are exams that allow doctors to see inside the genital area without surgery.

An ultrasound of the scrotum helps doctors:

  • Detect trauma to the scrotum
  • Determine whether or not a mass felt in the testicles is a cancerous tumor or a fluid-filled cyst
  • Identify and diagnose causes of testicle pain or swelling (such as epididymitis)
  • Detect varicoceles - varicose veins in the scrotum - which can lead to infertility
  • Look for the location of an undescended teste

If you are experiencing pain or unexplainable swelling in the testicles, or have felt a lump in your scrotum, talk to your doctor about scheduling a scrotal ultrasound. Testicular trauma can cause serious discomfort and may lead to infertility if left untreated. Testicular cancer, if undiagnosed, can be life-threatening. Because of this, it is recommended that you seek diagnostic imaging right away to determine the cause of your symptoms.

Unlike other forms of ultrasound, no preparation is required for a scrotal exam. It is rare that you will need to discontinue medicine use or fast before a scrotal ultrasound. Before the imaging begins, you will be asked to remove all metallic items from your person such as jewelry, piercings, eyeglasses, and dentures. Because of this, it is usually recommended that you leave most of these items (specifically jewelry and piercings) at home on the day of your appointment.

Before the ultrasound, you will be asked to change out of your street clothes and into a hospital gown.

In the exam room, you will be asked to lie down on your back with your legs spread open on a padded table. Your doctor will use a hand-held device known as a transducer, which directs high-frequency sound waves into the tissue being studied. After the area is gelled (gel helps conduct the ultrasound waves), the transducer is placed against the skin of your scrotum for imaging.

As the sound waves echo off the scrotal tissue, the transducer sends data to a computer that records the feedback and creates images. You may be asked to hold your breath for several seconds as images are being taken. Your doctor may ask you to reposition yourself a few times for various imaging angles.

This procedure usually takes about 15-30 minutes. Unless further testing is needed, most individuals are free to resume daily activities after their ultrasound.

After your appointment, a radiologist will review the images produced by the exam. They will then present their findings to your health care provider, who will pass on the results to you. This may take 1-3 business days, depending on the clinic.

Yes. Ultrasounds are non-invasive exams that provide real-time imaging of blood flow and organs in the body. This type of imaging is totally safe and extremely accurate. Unlike X-rays or CT scans, ultrasound imaging uses no ionizing radiation during the procedure. While radiation is generally considered safe in small doses, it can cause adverse effects if used frequently. Ultrasounds use soundwaves, not radiation, to create the images produced by the test. Because of this, ultrasounds are often considered the best imaging method for children, pregnant women, and individuals who are concerned about the use of radiation.

Ultrasounds are generally less expensive than other forms of imaging. They do not require injections, nor is sedation needed for the procedure. These are quick and painless exams that usually take under an hour. After your appointment, you will likely be cleared to leave and go about your daily activities.

If you have any questions about different types of imaging, talk to your health care provider about the method that is right for you.

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