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Spermatocele

Spermatocele Epididymis


Presentation

Most spermatoceles are asymptomatic. When the cysts have dilated enough to become large and noticeable, they may present as:

  • Small to large sized lumps in the scrotum
  • Cysts are usually less than 1 cm wide
  • They are typically found superior to the testicle (at the location of the head of the epididymis)
  • Smooth, spherical, well circumscribed masses
  • They may be painful
Aspiration
  • Single aspirations showed 200,000 to 30 million spermatozoa, and the aspirated volume varied between 0.4 and 1.0 ml. Artificial insemination of the wife was done at the time of ovulation, but no pregnancy has been achieved yet.[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  • The grafts were aspirated monthly for up to six months, and the aspirates containing spermatozoa were used for artificial insemination. Spermatozoa were consistently retrieved from each patient, but no pregnancies have resulted.[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  • Motile spermatozoa were aspirated from the reservoir 3 months after implantation. Abortion occurred 22 days after embryo replacement.[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  • To evaluate the amount, motility, and viability of sperm in fluid aspirated from naturally occurring spermatoceles and to investigate the effect of cryopreservation of sperm retrieved from spermatoceles.[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  • The sperm reservoir has been in place for 14 years with its size and the quality of the aspirated semen unchanged.[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
Collapse
  • Spermatocele implantation onto the vas apparently has the following advantages: the anatomic and functional integrity of the epididymis is maintained, the storage function of the epididymal-deferential ansa is preserved, and the risk of spermatocele collapse[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  • […] anechoic, with no internal echoes Cyst may displace the testis if it is large This is distinct from hydrocele, which envelops the testis but does not displace it Radiology images Images hosted on other servers: Gross description Arrives in laboratory as a collapsed[pathologyoutlines.com]
Suggestibility
  • It is suggested that in some patients with congenital absence of vas deferens, the paired Wolffian ducts may differ from each other in their development.[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  • These results demonstrate that the poor-quality sperm retrieved from a human alloplastic spermatocele can be improved with exogenous stimulation and suggest that their fertilizing capacity may be enhanced by this treatment.[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  • No malignancy was detected in 159 hydrocele and spermatocele specimens during the 14 study years, suggesting that the pathology analysis is of little clinical benefit.[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  • Clusters of blue cells suggestive of sloughed rete testis cells can mimic small cell carcinoma in hydrocele and spermatocele specimens based on their low power appearance and positive CD56 staining.[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  • Our results suggest that spermatocele fluid may contain sufficient numbers of sperm for use with assisted reproductive technologies. Motile and viable sperm can be recovered after cryopreservation and storage of sperm obtained from a spermatocele.[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
Scrotal Mass
  • Located at the superior pole of the testis and caput epididymis, the spermatocele is soft and fluctuant and can be transilluminated (a flashlight can be seen if shined through the scrotal mass).[healthcentral.com]
  • Diagnosis [ edit ] Spermatoceles can be discovered as incidental scrotal masses found on physical examination by a physician . They may also be discovered by self-inspection of the scrotum and testicles .[en.wikipedia.org]
  • Spermatoceles are typically smooth, well circumscribed scrotal masses that may occur anywhere along the vas deferens or somewhere in the ducts of the testis itself. They most commonly occur from the head, known as the caput, of the epididymis.[symptoma.com]
  • It's a good idea to have your doctor evaluate any scrotal mass to rule out a serious condition, such as testicular cancer. Also, be sure to call your doctor if you experience pain or swelling in your scrotum.[fortishealthcare.com]
  • Google Scholar Glenn JF (1965) Scrotal masses. Hosp Med 28 June: 32. Google Scholar Gottesman JE, Sample WF, Skinner DG, Ehrlich RM (1977) Diagnostic ultrasound in the evaluation of scrotal masses. J Urol 118: 601.[link.springer.com]
Swelling of the Scrotum
  • There will be a visible and palpable cough impulse and percussion will yield a tympanic note.[1] Testicular malignancy Presents with a painless swelling of the scrotum in 75 percent of cases. [1] It is usually a hard immobile scrotal lump. [4] Enlarged[explainmedicine.com]
  • These are too similar conditions of fluid swelling in the scrotum.[metrovanurology.com]
  • Symptoms Spermatoceles typically present as small swellings in the scrotum. They may or may not be painful. Diagnosis Diagnosis is made on the basis of physical examination and ultrasound.[symptoma.com]
  • Also, be sure to call your doctor if you experience pain or swelling in your scrotum. A number of conditions can cause testicular pain, and some require immediate treatment. The cause of spermatoceles is unknown.[fortishealthcare.com]
Testicular Pain
  • A number of conditions can cause testicular pain, and some require immediate treatment. The cause of spermatoceles is unknown.[fortishealthcare.com]
  • A number of conditions can cause testicular pain, and some require immediate treatment. Causes The cause of spermatoceles is unknown.[mayoclinic.org]
Testicular Mass
  • Imaging and management of atypical testicular masses. Urol Clin North Am. 1998;25:375-388. Dogra VS, Gottlieb RH, Rubens DJ, Liao L. Benign intratesticular cystic lesions: US features. RadioGraphics. 2001;21:S273-S281.[appliedradiology.com]
  • Relapses usually occur within 18 months of initiation of chemotherapy. 15 Benign Causes of Testicular Masses Hydrocele Mechanism .[aafp.org]
Testicular Swelling
  • Signs and Symptoms Painless testicular swelling Positive transillumination Seldom: disturbing size or pain Diagnosis of Spermatoceles Ultrasound imaging: Ultrasound imaging is very useful for differential diagnosis of scrotal swelling.[urology-textbook.com]

Workup

Work up consists of a detailed history and physical examination.

Laboratory tests

Laboratory test are rarely performed. Usually a physical examination and imaging studies are sufficient to form a diagnosis. If the patient also complains of pain during urinating and/or in the scrotum, urinalysis may be done to check for epididymitis.

Imaging 

Ultrasound: Scrotal ultrasound will assist diagnosis if there is uncertainty [6].

Color Doppler Sonography: Color Doppler may reveal a 'falling snow' sign, resulting from internal echoes moving away from the transducer [7].

Transillumination: Spermatoceles are transilluminate on examination as they contain fluid.

Test results

On the basis of imaging studies and physical examination, spermatoceles can be diagnosed and treatment, if needed, can be started.

Treatment

Spermatocelectomy

This procedure is only performed when the spermatocele is large and poses some discomfort to the patient. It is conducted via a transscrotal approach and is the primary surgical treatment for this condition. The patient must be counselled regarding the risks of infertility, as well as the more common complications of hematoma, infection, swelling, recurrence and pain [8].

Scleropathy

This procedure is less effective than spermatocelectomy. Coaptation of the walls of the cyst, by the help of a sclerosing agent or sclerosant, is done after aspirating the cyst to prevent recurrence. Sclerosants used include tetracycline, phenol and sodium tetradecyl sulphate [9]. Comparative trials have not established any one agent as a superior spermatocele sclerosing agent [10]. It should be noted that this procedure carries more risks and complications than a spermatocelectomy.

Medications

Medications are given only to relieve symptoms. Analgesics may be given if the patient suffers from scrotal pain. Antibiotics may be started if the patient tests positive for epididymisitis.

Prognosis

Spermatoceles have an excellent prognosis. As they are benign masses, they may not require treatment at all if asymptomatic. If, however, they are symptomatic and/or large in size, they can be successfully treated with surgery.

Complications

Complications of spermatoceles are rare. Some of them may include:

  • Torsion of the cyst can occur but is extremely rare with only a handful of cases reported [4]. 
  • Infection secondary to cyst formation [5].
  • Large sized cysts leading to painful sores 
  • Scrotal distortion
  • Burning pain during urinating (rare)
  • Infertility (rare)

Etiology

Spermatoceles are mainly idiopathic. Several factors have been proposed to be the underlying cause of development of a spermatocele. It is generally accepted, however, that any condition, that blocks one or more of the ducts in the scrotum may result in formation of a spermatocele.

Scarring of any part of the ducts may result in this condition and so can vasectomy. Trauma and inflammation may also cause spermatoceles [3]. Aneurysmal dilatations of the epididymis may also cause the formation of a spermatocele.

Epidemiology

Incidence

Cysts are found in as many as 30% of asymptomatic patients having scrotal ultrasound for other reasons, but most of these are spermatoceles [2].

Age

Spermatoceles have no known predisposition to age. 

Sex distribution
Age distribution

Pathophysiology

Spermatoceles are typically smooth, well circumscribed scrotal masses that may occur anywhere along the vas deferens or somewhere in the ducts of the testis itself.
They most commonly occur from the head, known as the caput, of the epididymis. They contain fluid and varying content of spermatozoa.

Spermatoceles are benign and may go unnoticed unless large in size or painful. They may be of a few millimetres or grow up to be many centimetres wide.

Although the exact etiology is heretofore unknown, it is clear that any factor that results in blockage of one or more of the testicular ducts will eventually predispose to the formation of a spermatocele. Such factors include inflammation, such as epididymisitis, scarring due to vasectomy, trauma to the scrotum, etc.

Prevention

Spermatoceles can not be prevented from forming unless they are due to an underlying treatable cause such as inflammation.

Summary

Spermatocele refers to a small cystic accumulation of semen in dilated efferent ducts or ducts of the rete testis [1]. It usually occurs as a sac like dilatation of a region of the narrow epididymis. The dilated cyst contains clear to cloudy fluid, mostly containing sperms.

Patient Information

Definition

A spermatocele is a cyst like dilatation of the ducts inside the scrotum. The cysts can be solitary or many. They contain clear fluid and typically some amount of sperms.

Cause

They are caused by blockage of the ducts carrying the sperms. The blockage may be due to trauma, scarring, a complication of vasectomy, infection and inflammation, etc.

Symptoms

Spermatoceles typically present as small swellings in the scrotum. They may or may not be painful.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis is made on the basis of physical examination and ultrasound.

Treatment

If asymptomatic, spermatoceles do not require treatment. If, however, they are large and painful, surgical intervention is recommended.

References

Article

  1. Robbins and Cotran, Pathologic Basis of Disease. 8th ed. Ch21, pg 993
  2. Pais VM, et al. Spermatocele. eMedicine. June 2009.
  3. Wampler SM. Common scrotal and testicular problems. Primary Care Clinic Office Practice. 2010;37:613.
  4. Yilmaz E, Batislam E, Bozdogan O, et al. Torsion of an epididymal cyst. Int J Urol. 2004 March;11(3):182-3.
  5. Gunaydin G, Ozyurt C, Kocak I, et al. Anti bacterial activity of the fluid contents of spermatocele and epididymal cysts. Br J Urol. 1995 Jan;75(1):68-70.
  6. Muttarak M, Chaiwun B; Painless Scrotal Swelling: ultrasonographical features with pathological correlation. Singapore Med J. 2005 April;46(4):196-201; quiz 202.
  7. Sista AK, Filly RA. Color Doppler sonography for evaluation of spermatoceles: the 'falling snow' sign. J Ultrasound Med. Jan 2008;27(1):141-3
  8. Kauffman EC, Kim HH, Tanrikut C, Goldstein M. Microsurgical spermatocelectomy: techniques and outcomes of a novel surgical approach. J Urol. Jan 2011; 185(1):238-42.
  9. Freedman D. 'A lovely bunch of coconuts'. Scand J Urol Nephrol Suppl. 1991;138:227-8.
  10. East JM, DuQuesnay D. Sclerotherapy of idiopathic hydroceles and epididymal cysts: a historical comparison trial of 5% phenol versus tetracycline. West Indian Med J. Dec 2007;56(6):520-5 

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Last updated: 2017-08-09 17:25