A device called a transducer is passed over the scrotum, directing high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound) at the structures within, including the testicle, epididymis (the tube that transports sperm from the testicle), and blood vessels. The sound waves are reflected back to the transducer and electronically converted into real-time images displayed on a viewing monitor. These images are then saved on film or video and reviewed for abnormalities.
Purpose of the Scrotal Ultrasound
- To evaluate scrotal abnormalities, including masses; pain or trauma; testicular torsion (twisting of the spermatic cord that contains blood vessels that supply the testes); an absent or undescended testicle; inflammation; abnormal blood vessels; and fluid accumulation
- To measure testicle size
- To evaluate the cause of infertility
- To monitor men with previous testicular cancer or infection
- Used for guidance during needle biopsy of a suspicious testicular mass
Who Performs It
- A doctor or a technician who is trained in ultrasound.
Before the Scrotal Ultrasound
- You will be asked to disrobe and put on a hospital gown.
What You Experience
- You will lie on your back on an examining table.
- The doctor will perform a brief manual exam, gently palpating the scrotum on both sides.
- The penis is lifted, placed on the abdomen, and covered. A rolled up towel or the examiner’s hand will be placed under the scrotum for support.
- A water-soluble gel is applied to your scrotal skin to enhance sound wave transmission.
- The examiner then moves the transducer back and forth over your scrotum to obtain different views. (This is usually painless, unless the scrotum is very tender.)
- Once clear images are obtained, they are recorded on film or video for later analysis.
- The test is repeated on the other side.
- The test takes 20 to 30 minutes.
Risks and Complications
- Ultrasound is painless, noninvasive, and involves no exposure to radiation. There are no associated risks.
After the Scrotal Ultrasound
- The examiner removes the conductive gel from your skin.
- You may resume your normal activities.
- A physician reviews the images and video for evidence of any abnormality.
- If a definitive diagnosis can be made, appropriate treatment will be initiated.
- If ultrasound fails to yield a definitive diagnosis, additional tests, such as a needle biopsy, may be needed to provide more specific information or to further evaluate abnormal findings.
The Johns Hopkins Consumer Guide to Medical Tests
Simeon Margolis, M.D., Ph.D., Medical Editor
Updated by Remedy Health Media