ultrasound (sonogram) is a test that uses reflected
sound waves to show a picture of the
scrotum. The test can show the long, tightly
coiled tube that lies behind each testicle and collects sperm (epididymis). And it can show
the tube (vas deferens) that connects the testicles to the
prostate gland. The ultrasound does not use
X-rays or other types of radiation.
A small handheld device called a
transducer is passed back and forth over the scrotum. The device sends the
sound waves to the computer, which turns them into a picture. This picture is shown on a video screen. The picture produced by ultrasound is called a
sonogram, echogram, or scan. Pictures or videos of the ultrasound images may be
Why It Is Done
Testicular ultrasound is done to:
Check a mass or pain in the testicles.
Find or check on an infection or swelling of the testicles or
Check for fluid in
the scrotum (hydrocele), fluid in the epididymis (spermatocele),
blood in the scrotum (hematocele), or pus in the scrotum
biopsy needle for a testicular biopsy. This may be done when testing for
Check an injury to the
How To Prepare
You don't need to do anything to prepare for a
If you are having a biopsy or another test
during the ultrasound, you may need to sign a consent form.
to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its
risks, how it will be done, or what the results will mean. To help you
understand the importance of this test, fill out the
medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).
How It Is Done
A testicular ultrasound is usually done
by an ultrasound technologist. It is done at a doctor's
office or hospital.
Before the test, you will need to take off all your clothes from
the waist down. You will put on a gown. You will be asked to lie on
your back on a padded table. Folded towels will be used to cover
the penis and lift the scrotum. A gel (such as K-Y Jelly) will be spread on
your scrotum. This is used for the transducer, which is pressed against your skin
and moved across your scrotum many times.
You will need to lie
very still during the ultrasound scan. You may be asked to take a breath and
hold it for several seconds during the scan. The test takes
about 20 minutes.
When the test is finished, the gel is removed
from your skin. You may be asked to wait until the
radiologist has reviewed the test. He or she may want to do more ultrasound views.
How It Feels
The gel may feel cold when it is put on your scrotum. Or it may be warmed to body temperature first. You will feel
light pressure from the transducer as it passes over your scrotum. If the test is being done to find out how bad damage is from a recent
injury or to find out what is causing pain in the testicles, the slight pressure of the transducer
may be a bit painful. You will not hear the sound waves.
biopsy is done during the ultrasound, you may have slight discomfort when
the sample is taken.
There are no known risks from a
testicular ultrasound test.
You may not be able to
have the test, or the results may not be helpful, if you:
Can't stay still during the
Have an open sore or wound in the area that needs to be
What To Think About
Testicular ultrasound is usually done to
check a mass or pain in the testicles for cancer. Young men with a
testicular mass or pain should be checked right away by a doctor. Testicular
cancer is the most common cancer in young men.
With this test, your doctor can usually tell the difference between a fluid-filled
cyst, a solid lump, or another type of mass.
A fluid-filled mass with a shape that's the same on both sides and that does
not have tiny pieces floating in it is likely to be a cyst or a
A mass that does not have fluid, has fluid with tiny
floating pieces (atypical cyst), or is larger than expected needs more testing. Often a follow-up ultrasound is done in 6 to 8 weeks. This is to
allow time for the mass to go away on its own.
If a solid lump or
an atypical cyst is present and a testicular ultrasound can't show
if it is cancer, a
biopsy may be done.
Other Works Consulted
Chernecky CC, Berger BJ (2008). Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, 5th ed. St. Louis:
Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009).
Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed.
Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby’s Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerChristopher G. Wood, MD, FACS - Urology, Oncology
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.