A spermatocele, also known as a spermatic cyst, is a benign growth that develops on the epididymis, the coiled tube located on the upper side of the testicle that stores sperm. Most spermatoceles are small and contain a milky fluid that may or may not contain sperm. They are usually harmless and may stay the same in size or may grow over time.
Causes of a Spermatocele
The specific cause of a spermatocele is unknown. However, possible causes may include:
- A blockage within the tubes that drain sperm into the epididymis
- A result of trauma or inflammation
- In utero exposure to diethylstilbestrol or DES, a synthetic form of estrogen
Symptoms of a Spermatocele
Most men who develop spermatoceles do not experience any symptoms. Some patients may experience heaviness or dull pain within the scrotum.
Diagnosis of a Spermatocele
Most spermatoceles are discovered during a self-examination of the testicles or during a routine doctor's exam. A doctor may perform an ultrasound to further evaluate the cyst and diagnose it as a spermatocele.
Treatment of a Spermatocele
Since most spermatoceles do not cause any symptoms or harm, they do not usually require treatment. If the size of the spermatocele increases and becomes bothersome, or results in pain, there are several options available for treatment.
Medication is sometimes used to treat spermatoceles. Spermatocele that cause moderate pain or discomfort can often be relieved with anti-inflammatory medication or oral analgesics.
In cases where spermatocele symptoms cause extreme discomfort, surgery may be recommended. Removal of the spermatocele is performed through a surgical procedure under local or general anesthesia. An incision is made in the scrotum and the spermatocele is separated from the epididymis and then removed.
Although it is not common procedure, doctors sometimes will sometimes use aspiration to treat a spermatocele. Aspiration involves the puncture of the spermatocele with a needle and withdrawal of its contents into a syringe.
Sclerotherapy may also be used to drain fluid from the cyst and turn it into scar tissue. After using a needle to drain the fluid from the spermatocele, an irritating agent is injected directly into the spermatocele sac to cause it to heal and the scar to close.