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A spermatocelectomy refers to a surgery to remove a benign cyst from the epididymis of the testes. Surgical treatment may be necessary for cysts if they are large and cause discomfort for the patient. This can come with some risks, including fertility problems associated with damage to the epididymis, infections at the surgical site, and bad reactions to anesthetics. Before a surgeon recommends a spermatocelectomy, the patient usually need to meets some specific diagnostic criteria that make the risks worth the benefits.
This procedure is used to treat a condition called spermatocele, where a buildup of fluid creates a small mass in the testes. Patients may notice it during a self examination or it might be noted at a doctor’s visit. Several conditions can cause testicular masses, so the doctor may recommend evaluation with medical imaging and biopsy to determine the nature of the mass and develop some treatment recommendations. On its own, a spermatocele is benign and shouldn’t present any particular problems for the patient.
Some may be awkwardly placed or grow large enough to start putting pressure on structures in the testes. In these cases, the patient may need a spermatocelectomy to remove the growth. The procedure may be performed under sedation or full anesthesia, depending on the preference of the patient and the care team. Surgeons make a small cut in the scrotum to access the testes and cut off the growth while preserving the epididymis. Once they’re finished, they place several absorbable sutures to close the incision.
One potential complication of the spermatocelectomy is that the surgeon may nick the epididymis or have trouble getting the growth out without damaging this structure. This can create future fertility problems. Infections can also occur, especially if the patient doesn’t comply with prophylactic antibiotic therapy or fails to keep the site clean and dry as directed. Some patients can experience bad reactions to anesthetics and sedatives used during the spermatocelectomy; going over medical history to check for any contraindications like a history of problems with anesthesia is a good idea.
Another risk of spermatocelectomy is that the growth can develop again after the surgery, which means patients need to be watchful with self-examinations. A new growth may take weeks or months to appear, and can vary in size and placement. Surgeons have difficulty preventing or predicting recurrence because the cause is not fully understood. Patients can ask about a doctor’s success rate to see how many patients experienced problems with repeat growths, in case the surgeon’s technique is a factor in whether spermatoceles form again after surgical treatment.