Testicular Ultrasound

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
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What is a testicular ultrasound?

A testicular ultrasound is an imaging exam. Ultrasound creates pictures of organs and body structures using painless sound waves. A hand-held transducer produces the sound waves. They travel through the body and bounce back to the transducer. The transducer sends the information to a computer, which translates it into visual images. This is different from standard X-rays that use ionizing radiation. Ultrasound can reveal details that X-rays can’t, such as the presence of fluid-filled cysts. Sonography and sonograms are other names for ultrasound. Testicular ultrasound may also be called a scrotal ultrasound.

A scrotal ultrasound lets your doctor see structures inside the scrotal sac. This includes the testicles, vas deferens, and epididymis.

Why is a testicular ultrasound performed?

Your doctor may order a testicular ultrasound if you have concerning symptoms, such as pain, swelling or a lump in your scrotum. A testicular ultrasound can help your doctor diagnose or rule out several conditions including:

  • Infection of the epididymis, testes, or other structure
  • Male infertility
  • Traumatic injury
  • Undescended or absent testes
  • Varicocele, which is a swollen vein

The cost of testicular ultrasound will vary by region. It also depends on your health insurance coverage, including any copays, deductibles and coinsurance you have to pay. Contact your plan for details on your out-of-pocket costs.

Who performs a testicular ultrasound?

Sonographers perform testicular ultrasounds. Ultrasound technician and ultrasound technologist are other names for this healthcare provider. A radiologist will read and interpret the ultrasound results. Radiologists also perform certain imaging exams, including ultrasound-guided biopsies. The radiologist will send a report to your doctor, who will share them with you.

How is a testicular ultrasound performed?

Your testicular ultrasound will take place in a radiology setting, either a clinic or hospital department. The exam is performed in a dim room for optimal viewing of the ultrasound images.

What to expect the day of your testicular ultrasound

In general, this is what happens the day of your testicular ultrasound:

  • You will undress from the waist down, or change into a patient gown, with a drape to cover your bottom half.
  • You will lie on your back and spread your legs. The sonographer may position the drape under your scrotum to lift it slightly.
  • The sonographer will apply warm ultrasound gel to the skin of your scrotum. The gel helps the transducer maintain contact with your skin and transmit the sound waves.
  • The sonographer will put the transducer on your scrotum and move it gently over the areas that need imaging.
  • Once the imaging is complete, you can wipe away the gel. It is a water-based gel and will dry quickly.

A testicular ultrasound takes about 30 minutes from start to finish.

What are the risks and potential complications of a testicular ultrasound?

Standard ultrasound of any type, including testicular ultrasound, has no known risks. Unlike X-rays, there is no exposure to ionizing radiation.

How do I prepare for a testicular ultrasound?

There is no special preparation for a testicular ultrasound. However, some men and boys find the thought of a testicular ultrasound embarrassing. So, it may take some mental preparation if this is the case. If you or your son would be more comfortable with a certain sex of the sonographer, discuss this ahead of time with the scheduling department.

What can I expect after a testicular ultrasound?

Knowing what to expect makes it easier to plan and prepare mentally for a testicular ultrasound.

How long will it take to recover?

You should be able to resume your normal activities right after a testicular ultrasound.

Will I feel pain?

Ultrasounds are not painful. However, if you have a tender area, you may feel it when the transducer moves over it. You may also feel pressure from the transducer at certain times during the exam. Let the sonographer know if something is painful.

When should I call my doctor?

Call your doctor if you have questions or concerns before your follow-up appointment.

How might a testicular ultrasound affect my everyday life?

Your doctor will share the results of your testicular ultrasound with you once the radiologist has completed the report. The results will guide your next steps, such as treatments or more testing or exams.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 May 14
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
  1. Scrotal Ultrasound. U.S. National Library of Medicine. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003780.htm
  2. Testicular Cancer. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/testicular-cancer-care/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20352991
  3. Ultrasound: Scrotum. Nemours Foundation. https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/ultrasound-scrotal.html
  4. Ultrasound – Scrotum. Radiological Society of North America. https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=us-scrotal