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Scrotal masses

Testicular mass; Scrotal growth

A scrotal mass is a lump or bulge that can be felt in the scrotum. The scrotum is the sac that contains the testicles.

Causes

A scrotal mass can be noncancerous (benign) or cancerous (malignant).

Benign scrotal masses include:

  • Hematocele -- blood collection in the scrotum
  • Hydrocele -- fluid collection in the scrotum
  • Spermatocele -- a cyst-like growth in the scrotum that contains fluid and dead sperm cells
  • Varicocele -- a varicose vein along the spermatic cord
  • Epididymal cyst -- a swelling in the duct behind the testes that transports sperm

Scrotal masses can be caused by:

Symptoms

Symptoms include:

Exams and Tests

During a physical exam, the health care provider may feel a growth in the scrotum. This growth may:

  • Feel tender
  • Be smooth, twisted, or irregular
  • Feel liquid, firm, or solid
  • Be only on one side of the body

The inguinal lymph nodes in the groin on the same side as the growth may be enlarged or tender.

The following tests may be done:

Treatment

A provider should evaluate all scrotal masses. However, many types of masses are harmless and do not need to be treated unless you are having symptoms.

In some cases, the condition may improve with self-care, antibiotics, or pain relievers. You need to get medical attention right away for a growth in the scrotum that is painful.

If the scrotal mass is part of the testicle, it has a higher risk of being cancerous. Surgery may be needed to remove the testicle if this is the case.

A jock strap or scrotal support may help relieve the pain or discomfort from the scrotal mass. A hematocele, hydrocele, or spermatocele may sometimes need surgery to remove the collection of blood, fluid, or dead cells.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Most conditions that cause scrotal masses can be easily treated. Even testicular cancer has a high cure rate if found and treated early.

Have your provider examine any scrotal growth as soon as possible.

Possible Complications

Complications depend on the cause of the scrotal mass.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your provider if you find a lump or bulge in your scrotum. Any new growth in the testicle or scrotum needs to be checked by your provider to determine if it may be testicular cancer.

Prevention

You can prevent scrotal masses caused by sexually transmitted diseases by practicing safe sex.

To prevent scrotal masses caused by injury, wear an athletic cup during exercise.

References

Germann CA, Holmes JA. Selected urologic disorders. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 89.

Hertzberg BS, Middleton WD. Lower genitourinary. In: Hertzberg BS, Middleton WD, eds. Ultrasound: The Requisites. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 6.

O'Connell TX. Scrotal masses. In: O'Connell TX, ed. Instant Work-ups: A Clinical Guide to Medicine. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 66.

  • Hydrocele

    Hydrocele - illustration

    A hydrocele is a collection of fluid inside the area of the scrotum, surrounding the testicle. Hydroceles are common in newborn infants and normally resolve after a few months after birth. The main symptom is a painless, swollen testicle, on one or both sides, which feels like a water-filled balloon. Hydroceles are usually not dangerous, and they are usually only treated when they cause discomfort or embarrassment, or they get so large that they threaten the blood supply of the testicle.

    Hydrocele

    illustration

  • Spermatocele

    Spermatocele - illustration

    A spermatocele is a cyst-like mass that forms within the epididymis. It is usually filled with fluid and dead sperm cells. A spermatocele can be left untreated unless it is growing too large or causing the individual discomfort.

    Spermatocele

    illustration

  • Male reproductive system

    Male reproductive system - illustration

    The male reproductive system, viewed from a sagittal section.

    Male reproductive system

    illustration

  • Scrotal mass

    Scrotal mass - illustration

    A scrotal mass is a lump or bulge that can be felt in the scrotum.

    Scrotal mass

    illustration

    • Hydrocele

      Hydrocele - illustration

      A hydrocele is a collection of fluid inside the area of the scrotum, surrounding the testicle. Hydroceles are common in newborn infants and normally resolve after a few months after birth. The main symptom is a painless, swollen testicle, on one or both sides, which feels like a water-filled balloon. Hydroceles are usually not dangerous, and they are usually only treated when they cause discomfort or embarrassment, or they get so large that they threaten the blood supply of the testicle.

      Hydrocele

      illustration

    • Spermatocele

      Spermatocele - illustration

      A spermatocele is a cyst-like mass that forms within the epididymis. It is usually filled with fluid and dead sperm cells. A spermatocele can be left untreated unless it is growing too large or causing the individual discomfort.

      Spermatocele

      illustration

    • Male reproductive system

      Male reproductive system - illustration

      The male reproductive system, viewed from a sagittal section.

      Male reproductive system

      illustration

    • Scrotal mass

      Scrotal mass - illustration

      A scrotal mass is a lump or bulge that can be felt in the scrotum.

      Scrotal mass

      illustration

     

    Review Date: 8/26/2017

    Reviewed By: Jennifer Sobol, DO, urologist with the Michigan Institute of Urology, West Bloomfield, MI. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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