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Routine pathology evaluation of hydrocele and spermatocele specimens is associated with significant costs and no identifiable benefit

Viral S Shah, Kenneth G Nepple, Daniel K Lee
Journal of Urology 2014, 192 (4): 1179-82

PURPOSE: Hydrocelectomy and spermatocelectomy are routine scrotal surgeries. A significant number of the surgical specimens are sent for pathology analysis. However, to our knowledge no study has been done to examine outcomes and necessity, which results in significant potentially unnecessary costs to the patient and the health care system. We evaluated outcomes and surgical pathology analysis of hydroceles and spermatoceles.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: We performed a retrospective, single institution chart review of all patients who underwent initial surgery for hydrocele or spermatocele between January 2000 and August 2013. We determined the number of cases in which a surgical specimen was sent for pathology examination. The cost for each specimen was estimated at the department of pathology.

RESULTS: A total of 264 routine scrotal cases were performed during the 14-year period. Surgical specimens were sent for pathology analysis in 102 hydrocelectomy cases (51%) and in 57 spermatocelectomy cases (90%). No pathology specimen showed any indication of malignancy. The estimated direct total cost of pathology analysis was $49,449 in this cohort.

CONCLUSIONS: 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. Forgoing surgical pathology analysis of these specimens would result in significant cost savings to the patient and the health care system.

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