Role of US in acute scrotal pain

G Liguori, S Bucci, A Zordani, S Benvenuto, G Ollandini, G Mazzon, M Bertolotto, F Cacciato, S Siracusano, C Trombetta
World Journal of Urology 2011, 29 (5): 639-43

BACKGROUND: The acute scrotum is a common emergency department (ED) presentation and can be defined as any condition of the scrotum or intrascrotal contents requiring emergent medical or surgical intervention. Although rarely fatal, acute scrotal pathology can result in testicle infarction and necrosis, testicular atrophy, infertility, and significant morbidity.

METHODS: Scrotal US is best performed with a linear 7.5- to 12-MHz transducer. In addition to imaging in the longitudinal and transverse planes, it is helpful to obtain simultaneous images of both testes for comparison. Color Doppler is used to evaluate for abnormalities of flow and to differentiate vascular from nonvascular lesions. Attention to appropriate color Doppler settings to optimize detection of slow flow is critical.

RESULTS: The evaluation of acute scrotal pain can be challenging for the clinician initially examining and triaging the patient. Acute scrotal conditions due to traumatic, infectious, vascular, or neoplastic etiologies can all present with pain as the initial complaint. Additionally, the laboratory and physical examination findings in such conditions may overlap; this, coupled with potential patient guarding and lack of collaboration, may result in a limited, non-specific physical examination. Therefore, scrotal ultrasound has emerged to play a central role in the evaluation of the patient presenting with acute scrotal pain.

CONCLUSIONS: In conclusion, we are firmly convinced that a scrotal ultrasound should always be performed in the presence of acute scrotal pain. Moreover, urologist should be able to perform a scrotal ultrasound but, if imaging does not supply a clear diagnosis, surgical exploration is still mandatory.

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