ultrasound (sonogram) is a test that uses reflected
sound waves to produce a picture of the
scrotum. An ultrasound can show the long, tightly
coiled tube that lies behind each testicle and collects sperm (epididymis) and
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 instrument called a
transducer is passed back and forth over the scrotum. The transducer sends the
sound waves to the computer, which converts them into a picture that is
displayed on a video monitor. The picture produced by ultrasound is called a
sonogram, echogram, or scan. Pictures or videos of the ultrasound images may be
saved as a permanent record.
Why It Is Done
Testicular ultrasound is done to:
Evaluate a mass or pain in the testicles.
Identify and monitor infection or inflammation of the testicles or
No special preparation is needed 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 in an ultrasound room in a doctor's
office or hospital.
You will need to remove all your clothes from
the waist down and put on a gown before the test. You will be asked to lie on
your back on a padded examination 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 for the transducer. The transducer 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 scanning. Testicular ultrasound 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 information. The
radiologist may want to do more ultrasound views.
How It Feels
The gel may feel cold when it is applied
to your scrotum unless it is first warmed to body temperature. You will feel
light pressure from the transducer as it passes over your scrotum. If the
ultrasound test is being done to determine the extent of damage from a recent
injury or to investigate testicular pain, the slight pressure of the transducer
may be somewhat painful. You will not hear the sound waves.
biopsy is done during the ultrasound, you may experience slight discomfort when
the sample is obtained.
There are no known risks associated with a
testicular ultrasound test.
Reasons you may not be able to
have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:
Not being able to remain still during the
Having an open sore or wound in the area that needs to be
What To Think About
Testicular ultrasound is usually done to
evaluate a mass or pain in the testicles for possible cancer. Young men with a
testicular mass or pain should be evaluated immediately by a doctor. Testicular
cancer is the most common cancer in young men.
ultrasound, your doctor can usually tell the difference between a fluid-filled
cyst, a solid lump, or another type of mass.
A fluid-filled mass that has a symmetrical shape and does
not have particles floating in it is likely to be a cyst or a
A mass that does not have fluid, one that has fluid with
floating particles (atypical cyst), or one that is larger than expected needs
further evaluation. Often a follow-up ultrasound is done in 6 to 8 weeks 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 cannot determine
whether it is cancer, a
biopsy may be recommended.
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.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.