Spermatocele (Epididymal Cyst) - Topic Overview
What is a spermatocele?
A spermatocele (epididymal
cyst) is a painless, fluid-filled cyst in the long, tightly coiled tube that lies above
and behind each testicle (epididymis ). The fluid in the cyst may contain sperm that are no longer alive. It feels like a smooth,
firm lump in the scrotum on top of the testicle.
Having a spermatocele doesn't affect a man's fertility.
What causes spermatoceles?
Although the cause of a
spermatocele is often unknown, it may be caused by obstruction of the tubes
that carry sperm from the testicles (epididymal ducts).
What are the symptoms?
Often a spermatocele does
not cause symptoms. You may notice what looks or feels like an extra lump or
mass above the testicle on one side of your scrotum. Or you may notice a
general enlargement of your scrotum. Symptoms, when present, can include pain,
swelling, or redness of the scrotum or a feeling of pressure at the base of the
How is a spermatocele diagnosed?
A spermatocele is
usually diagnosed by examining the scrotum. As part of the exam, your doctor
will shine a light behind each testicle (transillumination) to check for solid
masses that may be caused by other problems, such as cancer of the testicle.
Spermatoceles are filled with fluid, so light will shine through them
(transillumination). Light will not pass through solid masses that may be
caused by other problems, such as cancer of the testicle. An
ultrasound may be used to confirm the diagnosis of a
How is it treated?
Spermatoceles are not usually
dangerous and are treated only when they cause pain or embarrassment or when
they decrease the blood supply to the penis (rare). Treatment is not usually
needed if a spermatocele does not change in size or gets smaller as the body
reabsorbs the fluid.
If the spermatocele gets larger or causes
discomfort, a procedure to remove the spermatocele (spermatocelectomy) may be