What is a spermatocele?

A spermatocele is a cyst that develops in the epididymis (a coiled tube attached to the testicle which helps transport sperm). Spermatoceles are noncancerous (benign) and generally painless, but as with any abnormality in the scrotum, they ought to be investigated.

The majority of instances of spermatocele in men require little treatment. Most will resolve on their own. However in cases that require surgery, surgical interventions to remove spermatoceles have been extremely successful by Cleveland Clinic urologists.

Note: Abnormality or pain in the groin may stem from testicular torsion, an emergency condition that requires immediate medical attention at the closest medical facility.

How often do spermatoceles occur?

Spermatoceles are more common appearing in about 30% of adult men. They are usually found during self examination or while men are undergoing imaging studies for other conditions.

What causes spermatoceles?

Spermatoceles arise from an accumulation of sperm, usually in the head of the epididymis. The reasons for this accumulation are not well known. In many instances they appear to occur spontaneously without any preceding instances of injury, infection or inflammatory conditions. Research is pursuing the origins of spermatoceles.

How are spermatoceles diagnosed?

Spermatoceles appear as a firm, pea-sized lump. Men find them by palpating (feeling) their scrotum. Physicians find them the same way, often during routine physical check-ups or during an examination for other problems. Ultrasonography may be used to pinpoint and define the lump. Spermatoceles are filled with fluid whereas other growths are not.

A sonogram helps determine if the lump is a spermatocele or a mass that may be a benign or cancerous tumor. Sonograms are nearly 100% accurate in diagnosing spermatoceles.

When the conditions are painful, laboratory tests such as complete blood counts and urinalysis may be used to determine if inflammation and infection are present.

What are the symptoms of a spermatocele?

Spermatoceles are small and appear as a pea-sized bulge or lump in the scrotum. Sometimes this lump may be tender or painful and on occasions the scrotum is enlarged.

How are spermatoceles treated?

There are no medications that treat spermatoceles. Analgesics may be prescribed to relieve pain. Antibiotics may also be prescribed when spermatocele is suspected of arising from an infection. Surgical procedures are not frequently employed for either hydrocele or spermatocele. One reason is that the conditions tend to recur following surgery.

Spermatoceles can be removed as an outpatient procedure. The area is anesthetized, a small incision is made in the scrotum or groin and the spermatocele is removed (spermatocelectomy).

How can speramatoceles be prevented?

Although these spermatoceles are condition are considered benign, any abnormality in the scrotum should be investigated. Any abnormality or pain in the groin may stem from testicular torsion, an emergency condition that requires immediate medical attention at the closest medical facility.

Reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional.

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