Health

What is Spermatocele? Its Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Spermatocele

Do you have a small, painless lump in the scrotum? You may be having a medical condition known as Spermatocele. Know all about Spermatocele – its causes, symptoms and treatment.

Spermatocele Definition

Spermatocele is an abnormal cyst that appears on the testis or the epididymis. It looks like a lump and usually consists of a milky white fluid that may contain male sperm. It is due to the finding of sperm in the fluid that Spermatoceles are also known as Epididymal Cysts.

This unnatural cyst is commonly seen in men who are between 40 and 60 years of age. It is a very common disease affecting about 1/3rd of the male population.

Spermatoceles are generally less than half an inch in diameter. But they can also be larger in size.

Spermatocele Location

For Spermatocele epidydymis is the most common location. Spermatoceles are usually found at the upper part of the epididymis, the small coiled tubular structures located in the higher part of the testicle. These are also seen in the sides or rear position of the testes. Spermatoceles generally lie separate from the testicles.

A ultrasound of a spermatocele on the left testicle. Testicle is grey, fluid filled spermatocele is black.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Spermatocele Symptoms

Spermatoceles have quite a lot of symptoms associated to them. Some of the notable symptoms of Spermatocele are

Discomfort

What does a Spermatocele feel like? A person affected by this condition normally experiences no discomfort. In people with Spermatocele discomfort may arise if the lump grows too large. It can create problems in wearing dresses, especially undergarments. A swollen Spermatocele can rub with the cloth of the underwear and create great discomfort.

Pain

Spermatoceles are generally painless. People having Spermatoceles do not experience any pain from these testicular lumps. But in a few cases of Spermatocele painful sensation arises, mainly when the Spermatocele size becomes too large.

Heaviness

People with a much swollen Spermatocele can experience heaviness in the testicles.

Cancer

In rare cases of Spermatocele cancerous conditions may also arise. This happens when malignant tumors are mistaken as Spermatoceles.  A Spermatocele may also mask other serious complications like Epididymitis, Inguinal Hernia, Varicocele and Hydrocele. Because of a Spermatocele Hydroceles are often difficult to diagnose.

Spermatocele Causes

The exact reason behind the appearance of Spermatocele is still unclear. Medical experts however, believe that the lump arises due to a blockage in any of the tubes that supplies spermatozoa into the epididymis from the testicles.
The cysts are also believed to develop due to an injury or swelling on the skin. A scar on the skin tat obstructs a part of the epididymis can lead to a formation of Spermatocele.

Spermatocele Diagnosis

Mere observation with naked eyes is often enough to diagnose this condition. But for a proper diagnosis of the disease and to differentiate it from other similar conditions, it is important to perform an ultrasonography of the scrotum. Testicular screening exams should also be carried out to rule out the presence of any cancerous conditions.
A manual examination of Spermatocele consists of holding a light up to the scrotum. If the lump is a Spermatocele, light rays will pass through. But cancerous tumors or hernia bums are solid masses and allow no light to go through the. This is usually enough to separate a Spermatocele from a cancerous condition.

Spermatocele Treatment

Unless the Spermatocele lump causes pain or any discomfort, no treatment is needed. Regular scrotal check-ups and self-exams are necessary for the patient to find out if there is a worsening in the condition of the Spermatocele. In case of a negative change in Spermatocele condition, treatment becomes necessary.
Cure is required if the patient feels pain in the groin. Mild cases of pain in the testicles can be treated with over-the-counter medications.

If the Spermatocele lumps become too large and cause much discomfort, Spermatocele removal should be carried out as soon as possible. A Spermatocelectomy is required to surgically separate the spermatocele from the epididymis. The groin region is made numb with an anesthetic. A small incision is made in the scrotum. The spermatocele is isolated from the epididymis by tying it away with a suture.

The treatment can also be done through Spermatocelectomy. In this method, the scrotum is cut open and the Spermatocele cyst is removed through the opening. This can cause pain after operation and also lead to bruising and even infertility.

Sclerotherapy is a less common way used for Spermatocele cure. In this process, a tiny incision is made in the scrotum and a needle is inserted into the lump to drain out the fluid contained in it. A chemical is passed on into the empty sac with the help of an injection. This helps the scar tissue to grow within the sac and prevents the build-up of fluid again. The process can however give rise to risks like bleeding, infection and infertility.

In case of a multicystic Spermatocele ultrasound guidance may be applied by the surgeon. This ensures that all the cavities are sucked out.

Spermatocele surgery recovery

Chances of recovery are quite high after Spermatocele operation. Patients are usually discharged after being applied a pressure dressing over the operated area. Ice packs are pressed upon the operated region for several times for 2-3 days after the operation to minimize inflammation.  Oral medications are also administered for 1-2 days after the surgery to reduce pain. Patients take bath from 2 days after surgery. They have to go for a follow-up visit about 2 weeks after the operation and have to wear a scrotal support in the interim period.
Will Spermatocele go away?

Spermatocele Epididymal cysts generally vanish after a proper surgical operation or drainage. Recurrence of the condition is very low and happens in about 10 to 25% cases of Spermatocele.

Spermatocele and Infertility

There are many popular theories regarding Spermatocele and fertility. Spermatocele does not usually lead to infertility. However, infertility arises normally after a surgical operation has been carried out on the cyst. As aforementioned, there are risks of infertility from Spermatocelectomy and Sclerotherapy. In case of Spermatocele in children and young males, it is not advisable to carry out such surgeries. It should normally be recommended to people who are old enough to be a father or who have no intention of becoming a parent. A physician should have a clear discussion with the Spermatocele patient before carrying out any Spermatocele repair that may affect the latter’s fertility. Surgeries should be avoided in men who desire to become a parent.

Spermatocele Pictures

Want to know about the appearance of Spermatoceles? Check out these Spermatocele pictures. These Spermatocele images will give you a fair idea of how these cysts look like.

Diagram of a spermatocele

Source: emedicine.medscape

Spermatocele as seen prior to incision

Source: emedicine.medscape

Intraoperative view of spermatocele with adjacent testicle and spermatic cord.

Source: emedicine.medscape

An untreated Spermatocele can grow too large for comfort and also invite other complications like infection, fever, pain and bleeding. So it is best to treat the condition as soon as you detect it. Timely treatment will help you recover much early and live life in the pink of health.

References:

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Discussion 4 Comments

  1. EmmaRae says:

    Health being a very important aspect to enjoy good life, it is very important to seek professional advice of a doctor, once a minor or major sickness has been detected.

  2. Sandra says:

    Many a times, cure is found at an early instead of seeking a medical advice in the last stage. Therefore, it is very important to consult a doctor soon a health problem is noticed.

  3. Nora says:

    With the medical technology, growing on a rapid pace, there is early and permanent cure for problems with or without surgery. Therefore seeking the advice and following the medical prescription of a doctor is really important.

  4. Udolph says:

    By using medicines on a particular time frame, you will not only be preventing the advancement of health problem, but also will be able to avoid and prevent many other health risks.

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